On this page

Why is a booster needed?

Studies show that the immunity created by COVID-19 vaccines begins to wane over time.

A booster shot strengthens your immune system and helps to maintain a high level of protection against serious illness from the COVID-19 virus.

Who is eligible for a booster shot?

Eligibility for booster vaccination includes people aged 18 years and over who received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine 6 months or more ago.

People who are immunocompromised and have received a third primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are not yet recommended to have a booster (fourth) dose.

Why are people aged 12 – 17 not eligible for a booster when they can get a vaccine?

Booster doses are not currently recommended for those aged under 18 years. In this age group, severe COVID-19 is uncommon, and the primary course of COVID-19 vaccines generates a strong immune response, so the benefit from additional doses of vaccine is likely to be small.

In addition, there are currently only very limited data on the safety of repeated mRNA vaccine doses in this age group.

What about children under 12?

Children under 12 are not currently approved for COVID-19 vaccination in Australia.

Which vaccine/s will be used for booster shots?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved the Pfizer vaccine for the booster shot, even if you had another vaccine for your primary doses.

Although not preferred, people who had the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first two doses without an adverse reaction and those who can't have an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for medical reasons (contraindicated) or who had a significant adverse reaction to a previous mRNA vaccine can have the AstraZeneca vaccine for their booster.

ATAGI will make a recommendation on the potential use of the Moderna vaccine as a booster in due course.

How will boosters be rolled out?

Booster vaccination will be offered to people based on the length of time since the second dose was received.

If your second dose was over 6 months ago, you should receive your booster shot as soon as possible.

While it's open to everyone over 18 years of age who has had two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago, people who are particularly recommended to receive a booster vaccination include:

  • People at greater risk of serious COVID-19 illness, including people aged 50 years and older, those with underlying medical conditions, residents of aged care and disability facilities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults.
  • People at increased occupational risk of COVID-19.

How do I know when my last dose of my primary course of vaccination was?

You can check your immunisation record or COVID-19 vaccination certificate for the date of your second vaccination dose.

You may also be contacted through SMS or email to let you know you are eligible for a booster vaccination based on the time since your last primary course dose.

I'm immunocompromised and have had/am having a third dose of a COVID-19. Do I still need a booster?

Your third dose helps to build an immune response similar to people who are not immunosuppressed.

People who are immunocompromised and are recommended to receive a third primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are not yet recommended to have an additional booster dose. Further advice on boosters in this group will be provided by ATAGI soon.

What is the difference between a third dose and a booster?

A primary course of a vaccine is the number of doses it takes to achieve a good level of protection against a disease.

  • For the COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia, a primary course is two doses for most people.
  • For people who received a recognised overseas vaccine, a primary course could be one or two doses, depending on the type of vaccine.
  • For some people who are immunocompromised due to certain treatments or conditions, a third dose is recommended as part of a primary course to achieve similar levels of protection.

A booster is an extra dose of a vaccine, given sometime after the primary course. It 'boosts' the immune system and helps to maintain a high level of protection from the disease.

  • You may be familiar with other vaccines that have booster shots, such as tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).

Am I no longer considered 'fully vaccinated' at 2 shots?

For the purposes of complying with public health orders, you are considered fully vaccinated if you have two doses of an approved vaccine. Booster shots are not required for compliance with public health orders. 

Is the booster shot mandatory?

COVID-19 booster vaccines are not mandatory but are highly recommended to help maintain the best possible protection against the virus.

Booster shots will not be recorded on COVID-19 certificates or used for compliance checks; however, they will be recorded on your immunisation record.

Should I have a booster vaccination if I am pregnant?

Booster doses are recommended for pregnant women aged 18 years and older who received their second dose of vaccination at least 6 months ago. The Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for pregnant women. For more information, refer to the ATAGI clinical guidance.

Will more doses be required?

Experts all over the world are tracking and researching the COVID-19 virus to better understand how long the vaccines will provide protection against COVID-19, as well as how well they protect against new variants of the virus as they emerge.

This evidence will help to inform whether further boosters will be needed in the future.

How do I book a booster vaccination appointment?

  • NSW Health vaccination clinics will offer booster vaccinations from Monday, 1 November.
  • GPs and pharmacies will be able to provide booster vaccinations by Monday, 1 November.

To book a booster vaccination appointment, find a vaccination provider on the Vaccine Clinic Finder.

For more information on booster vaccination, visit the nsw.gov.au website.