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Why is a booster needed?

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

A booster dose 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 vaccination?

Everyone aged 16 years and over who received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at least 3 months ago should get a booster to stay up to date.

People who are severely immunocompromised due to certain treatments or conditions are recommended to have a third dose 2 - 6 months after the second dose to achieve a high level of protection against COVID-19. A booster (fourth) dose is then recommended 3 months after the third primary dose.

Why are people aged under 16 not eligible for a booster when they can get a vaccine?

Booster doses are not currently recommended for those aged under 16 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.

ATAGI will advise if a booster dose is required for children and young people (aged under 16) in the future.

Which vaccines are available for a booster dose?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines for the booster dose for people aged 18 years and older, even if you had another vaccine for your primary doses. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for boosters for people aged 16 - 17 years old.

AstraZeneca can be used when an mRNA vaccine is contraindicated or a person declines vaccination with an mRNA vaccine. Novavax can be used if no other COVID-19 vaccine is considered suitable for that person.

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 vaccine. 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 severely immunocompromised and are recommended to receive a third primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine are now also recommended to have an additional booster (fourth) dose.

If you are severely immunocompromised or have certain complex, chronic or severe conditions, you may also be eligible for an additional (second) winter booster dose.

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 severely 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 boosters, such as tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).

Is the booster dose mandatory?

In general, COVID-19 booster doses are not mandatory, but are strongly recommended to help maintain the best possible protection against the virus. If you are eligible for a booster, but have not had one within 6 months, you will no longer be up to date with your vaccinations and be considered overdue.

Some high-risk workplaces require employees to receive COVID-19 booster vaccines. This includes places where workers look after vulnerable people. More information about vaccination requirements for workers.

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

For the purposes of complying with public health orders, you are considered fully vaccinated if you have two doses of an approved vaccine.

Booster doses are not required for compliance with public health orders, however, if you are eligible for a booster dose and it has been more than 6 months, you will no longer be considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.

What does it mean to be up to date?

You're considered up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations if you've completed all of the recommended doses for your age and individual health needs. More information on this definition is available on the NSW Government website.

Being 'up to date' with your vaccination status is highly recommended to help maintain the best possible protection against the virus. If you are 'overdue' with your vaccination status, this means you will not be able to do certain things like get a current COVID-19 vaccine digital certificate.

Will I experience side effects from a booster? 

You may experience common, mild side effects when getting your booster dose, similar to those after the first two doses. They can include a sore arm, fever, muscle aches or feeling tired. Chat to a GP if you're concerned.

How do I know the booster is safe? 

Rigorous assessment and approval processes, undertaken by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), ensure that all COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, are safe and effective.

Why do I need more doses, isn't two enough?

A booster offers better protection against COVID-19 than two doses alone, reducing your risk of serious illness up to 95% compared to someone who has only had two doses.

Why do I need protection against Omicron?

Omicron is highly transmissible and can cause serious illness. A booster strengthens your protection and will help protect your loved ones too.   

Should I delay my booster if I have had COVID-19?

Updated ATAGI advice recommends waiting 3 months after a confirmed COVID-19 infection, then getting your next recommended dose as soon as possible.

Boosters can strengthen your protection up to 95% against serious illness.

Should I have a booster vaccination if I am pregnant?

Boosters help protect you and reduce your risks during pregnancy. Booster doses are recommended if you're pregnant, aged 16 years and older, and have received your second dose of vaccination at least 3 months ago.

If you are infected with COVID-19 you're at higher risk of severe illness and complications, including premature birth. The Pfizer vaccine is the preferred vaccine for pregnant women. For more information, refer to the ATAGI clinical guidance.

Why have ATAGI recommended a second booster for some people?

Some people are more at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. To protect the most vulnerable groups ahead of winter, ATAGI has recommended an additional winter (second) booster dose for these people.

From April 2022, the following people are eligible for an additional winter COVID-19 vaccine (second booster dose):

  • aged 65 years or over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over
  • a resident of an aged care or disability care facility
  • aged 16 years and over and severely immunocompromised. For people in this group, the winter vaccine dose will be a fifth COVID-19 vaccine dose (three primary doses, first booster and winter booster)
  • aged 16-64 years and have certain complex, chronic or severe conditions

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 additional boosters will be needed for people other than those listed above in the future.

Check your eligibility for booster vaccination

How do I book a booster vaccination appointment?

You can get  a vaccination at:

To get 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.