Oct. 22, 2021
By Dr. John Wig, Chief Medical Officer, Walmart
With the news that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now authorized boosters for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines, Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies are ready. If you recall, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine became eligible as a booster in September. Getting vaccinated is one of our best ways to ensure that you, your family, loved ones and community can stay healthy. If you haven’t already, and are eligible, please get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to help limit the spread of the virus and its variants, while also being extremely effective from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
How Are the COVID-19 Booster Shots Different and Who is Eligible?
According to the CDC, a booster shot is available for certain populations after a person has completed their initial COVID-19 vaccination. While COVID-19 vaccines are extremely effective, over time their protection against the virus can decrease. Based on the latest scientific data, the CDC has found booster shots to be effective in “boosting” the initial protections from COVID-19 vaccines, especially in at-risk populations.
Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Boosters
Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots have the same eligibility requirements — both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines can be administered to eligible individuals starting at least six months after their second dose.
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s booster shots are authorized for the following groups:
- Individuals 65 years of age and older
- Individuals 18 years of age and older who live in long-term care settings
- Individuals 18 to 64 years of age at high risk for severe COVID-19, and
- Individuals 18 to 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to COVID-19
In the case of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, a single booster shot can be administered starting 2 months after a patient’s single dose to individuals 18 years of age and older.
The J&J vaccine booster is authorized for the following individuals:
- All individuals 18 years of age and older
What About Side Effects and Safety of Boosters?
The CDC has found reactions reported for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were similar to what has been associated with second doses and a single dose of the J&J COVID-19 vaccines — mild and moderate overall, with the most common side effects after a booster shot being fatigue and pain at the injection site. For additional information, you can visit the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine booster shots page or discuss your concerns and questions with your doctor or other health care provider.
What Booster Shot Should I Get?
The FDA has also authorized heterologous or “mix and match” boosters. Specifically, the FDA authorized a single booster dose of any of the available COVID-19 vaccines may be administered after a person has completed their initial COVID-19 vaccination with a different available COVID-19 vaccine. The eligible population(s) and dosing interval for a “mix and match” booster dose are the same as those authorized for a booster dose of the vaccine used for primary vaccination.
Remember: Each authorized vaccine has been determined by the FDA to be both safe and effective and the FDA has not recommended one shot over another. They have noted that using the same vaccine as a booster, when possible, is preferable. Walmart will continue to administer all FDA authorized or approved vaccines and now boosters, which includes those from Pfizer, Moderna and J&J, and we encourage each person to always consult with their health care provider or pharmacist to discuss any additional questions or concerns they may have about the vaccine booster shot they are interested in.
Where to Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine Shots and Boosters, and Your Flu Shot
You can get your COVID-19 vaccine shots and booster shoots at your neighborhood Walmart or Sam’s Club pharmacy, conveniently available by both walk-up and appointment at all locations nationwide. Go to walmart.com/COVIDvaccine and samsclub.com/covid to learn more. The federal government is providing the vaccine at no cost. Don’t forget, flu season is here, and you can further protect yourself by getting your flu shot at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
I can’t thank our Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy teams enough for their care, dedication and hard work getting millions of Americans vaccinated, on top of the work they do every day to serve their patients. Please get vaccinated and, if among those eligible, get your booster shot. It can make a difference especially if you are immunocompromised, vulnerable to severe infection or at risk for frequent exposure to the COVID-19 virus.