Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines

Last updated on January 4, 2023.

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Find out how many doses you or your child will need with our COVID-19 vaccine dose calculator.
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COVID-19 vaccines work well to protect people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and even dying. Immunity from vaccines can drop over time. Staying up to date with all recommended doses is the best way to keep up protection for you, your loved ones, and the community. 

Everyone aged 6 months and older should get vaccinated against COVID-19, including getting an omicron vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. You don’t need an ID or insurance to get a vaccine. Find a dose near you.

 

What is an omicron vaccine and how is it different from the original COVID-19 vaccines?

Omicron vaccines are designed to offer protection from the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. The omicron variant is the most common and dominant variant in the United States today. Just like the virus has evolved, so has the vaccine. Getting the updated vaccine gives targeted protection from the COVID-19 variants circulating right now.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have produced omicron-specific versions of their vaccines for people aged 6 months and older.

Most people should get their omicron dose at least two months after completing their primary series or receiving their most recent booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Children aged 6 months through 4 years who already received three doses of Pfizer’s original vaccine aren’t recommended to get an omicron vaccine at this time. If you recently had COVID-19, you may consider waiting up to three months after you tested positive or first started feeling symptoms to schedule your omicron dose. People who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease may consider getting an omicron dose sooner than three months after infection. Talking with a health care provider can help you learn more about the best time to schedule your next dose, but it is not required.

Once you receive your omicron booster, you are all set with your COVID-19 vaccines. You don’t need to receive any more doses at this time.

 

How many doses do I need?

Everyone needs at least two doses of the vaccine. The exact number depends on what type of vaccine you get, your age, and whether or not you are immunocompromised. Though not required, talking with a health care provider can help you learn more about how many doses you or your child need and when to schedule them.

  • Everyone aged 6 months and older should complete a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.
    • For children aged 6 months through 4 years who get Pfizer, a primary series is three doses.
      • Children aged 6 months through 4 years who started with Pfizer may receive Pfizer’s omicron vaccine as their third primary dose. Children in this age group who already received three original doses of Pfizer aren’t recommended to get an omicron vaccine at this time.
    • For most people aged 5 years and older who get Pfizer, a primary series is two doses. People aged 5 and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised get three doses in their primary series.
    • For most people aged 6 months and older who get Moderna, a primary series is two doses. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised get three doses in their primary series.
    • For everyone aged 12 years and older who gets Novavax, a primary series is two doses.
    • For most people aged 18 years and older who get Johnson & Johnson, a primary series is one dose. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised who start with J&J should also get a dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in their primary series.
  • Most people aged 6 months and older should also receive an omicron vaccine after completing their primary series.
    • Children aged 6 months to 4 years who start with the Pfizer vaccine can get their omicron vaccine as the third dose in their primary series. Children in this age group who already received three doses of Pfizer’s original vaccine aren’t recommended to get an omicron vaccine at this time. 
    • Children aged 6 months to 5 years who start with the Moderna vaccine should get an omicron vaccine after finishing their primary series.
    • You can get an omicron vaccine at least two months after you complete your primary series. If you recently had COVID-19, you may consider waiting up to three months after you tested positive or first started feeling symptoms to get your omicron dose. People who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease may consider getting an omicron dose sooner than three months after infection. Talking with a health care provider can help you learn more about the best time to schedule your next dose, but it is not required.
    • If you received booster doses after finishing your primary series, you can get an omicron dose at least two months after your most recent booster dose. It doesn’t matter how many booster doses you already received.
    • People aged 6 years and older can get either a Pfizer or Moderna omicron vaccine, regardless of which types of vaccines you previously received. There is no preference.
  • Adults aged 18 years and older who completed a Novavax primary series and either can’t or would prefer not to get a Pfizer or Moderna omicron dose can receive a third Novavax dose six months after finishing their primary series. This third dose is the same formulation and dosage as the doses in the Novavax primary series.

If you’re due for another dose, schedule an appointment to get one. We encourage you to talk with a health care provider if you have questions, but it’s not required.

 

Why do I need another vaccine dose if I have already completed my primary series?

  • Staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines gives you the highest level of protection from severe illness, hospitalization, and death. 
  • Our immune systems remember what they have fought in the past. Vaccines let our immune systems practice fighting pieces of the COVID-19 virus. With more practice, the body makes more and better antibodies to fight COVID-19.
  • Just like the virus has evolved, so has the vaccine. All viruses mutate over time, including COVID-19. The spikes that cover the COVID-19 virus have changed since the original COVID-19 vaccines became available. These spikes were the original target of the COVID-19 vaccines, which is one reason why immunity from the original vaccines has decreased. 
  • Getting the updated omicron vaccine gives targeted protection from the COVID-19 variants circulating right now. Pfizer and Moderna’s updated omicron doses teach your body to make both the original spike proteins and spike proteins that cover the omicron variant of the virus. That way, your immune system gets to practice fighting both. 

 

Is it safe to get another dose?

Data from CDC shows that getting the recommended number of doses is safe. The side effects from omicron doses are about the same as the side effects of the primary vaccine doses.

 

Where can I get a dose of COVID-19 vaccine?

Learn more about where to get a vaccine, including an omicron dose, on our vaccine finder page. No ID, insurance, or proof of medical history is required. All doses of the vaccine are free.

 

What does it mean to have a moderately to severely weakened immune system?

  • This includes but is not limited to people who have: 
    • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood. 
    • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
    • Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system. 
    • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome). 
    • Advanced or untreated HIV infection. 
    • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.
  • Talking with a health care provider about your medical condition can help you learn more about whether getting an additional dose makes sense for you. However, it’s not required to have a conversation with a provider before getting an additional dose.
  • Coloradans looking to get an additional dose may self-attest that they are eligible. You do not need to provide your medical history to receive an additional dose.
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For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, call COHELP:

(303) 389-1687

For help making an appointment, call CDC’s vaccine hotline:

1-800-232-0233
Help is available in multiple languages.

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