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Who qualifies for a 3rd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you're immunocompromised and considered high risk, you are currently eligible to get a booster shot or a 3rd dose as others call it.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — This fall, President Joe Biden says booster vaccines for COVID-19 will be available for all. The CDC says they’ll start with higher risk groups, but shots are actually already available right now for some.

Before you go on in to your local pharmacy and ask for a 3rd shot, talk to your doctor first.

Dr. Michael Koren has been running vaccine trials over the last year including a recent booster shot trial. Currently, booster shots are for people who are immunocompromised and considered high risk. 

For example, if you are going through chemotherapy, Koren says you’d be in this category. He says if not, know that you are well protected with two shots.

“Your personal perspective of your risk is different than what your actual risk is," Koren says.

“What I’m finding in my clinical practice is that some people are just really really nervous and they’re asking about a third, even a fourth dose of vaccine," Koren said. "I got a request saying hey I’m going to Europe next week. Should I just get a vaccine before I go to protect myself? This is a 40 year old otherwise healthy person. The answer is no you don’t need that.”

He says first talk to your doctor to figure out if you are eligible. You can also read up on the CDC's specifics on eligibility.

Where can you get a booster now?

  • Publix: Scheduling 3rd dose Pfizer appointments in Duval, Brevard, Orange and Polk Counties.
  • CVS: Scheduling appointments online for Pfizer or Moderna.
  • Walmart: Taking walk ins only according to website. 
  • Walgreens: Walk ins only according to website.

Koren says if you do get a 3rd shot, you should get the same vaccine as you received previously.

“Because the antibodies levels are so highly increased after the 3rd dose, the most vulnerable people probably should get the booster," he said. 

The term booster and 3rd dose are used interchangeably, but Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Melanie Swift says calling it a booster is misleading. People who start getting vaccinated from now on should expect to get a 3rd dose 28 days after their 2nd.

According to medical experts, you should get the 3rd dose at the earliest 28 days after your 2nd dose.

“There are many vaccines that require multiple doses in order to trigger an immune reaction that is protective. That's called a primary series," Swift said. "Over time, our immunity may wane. It may be years later, but we may need a booster dose. A booster dose is not given to achieve immunity in the first place, it is given to remind your immune system to boost immunity.”

The available 3rd doses are for Pfizier and Moderna. 

What if you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? Dr. Swift says Johnson and Johnson is a few months behind Pfizer and Moderna on their studies so they currently don’t have a recommendation yet, but there is currently a study on a second dose.