Taking the Pulse: COVID-19 Boosters for Adults and Vaccines for Kids

If you’ve been anywhere near a newspaper, television, or the Internet in the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard some buzz around COVID-19 booster shots and Pfizer’s newly-approved pediatric vaccine. Confused? Jaded by the endless pandemic? Too busy to look up the details? Read on to get the latest vaccine news.

Am I eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot?

It depends on a few factors. First question: did you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago?

If yes, you’re eligible. The J&J vaccine has been found to have lower effectiveness over time compared to other brands. A booster will ensure you continue to be protected against the virus.

If no, you may be eligible if you received both doses of Pfizer or Moderna more than six months ago and fit one of the following categories:

Eligible and have signed up for a booster shot appointment? Make sure to bring your vaccine card with you.

What’s the difference between a booster and an extra dose?

Extra doses are meant to increase a person’s immune response. They are given to immune-compromised patients whose immune systems might not react strongly enough to the normal number of doses.

Boosters are meant to help a person maintain their immunity over time. Essentially, the main difference is timing. Extra doses are given in a shorter time frame than boosters.

I need to get my flu shot. Can I get my booster at the same time?

Yes, get both! In fact, some pharmacies will ask you if you’d like to get your flu shot when you sign up for a booster. We are rapidly approaching flu season, which is dangerous in its own right, and both vaccines are needed. The COVID-19 vaccine cannot protect you against the flu and vice versa.

If you usually have soreness at the site of injection and don’t want both arms to be out of commission, your provider will most likely allow you to get both shots in the same arm. Otherwise, any side effects should be the same as they would have been separately. People who developed fevers, joint pain, and headaches after their first round of COVID-19 vaccines may want to take it easy after their booster, too.

Does the brand of booster have to match the brand of my original vaccine?

No, it doesn’t need to match. Any available brand will help you maintain immunity. There is even some early evidence that mismatched vaccines (known as heterologous vaccines) may improve long-term immunity.

What if I haven’t gotten a COVID vaccine yet?

It’s not too late! Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. To find a vaccine, check the pharmacies and hospitals in your area. Most can help you get your initial doses.

Which vaccines are approved for children?

As of this moment, only the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine has been approved for children ages 5 to 11. It is administered in two doses given three weeks apart and is a smaller dose than the shot given to children 12 and up.

How can I be sure that it’s safe for kids?

The Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine has been carefully tested and will continue to be studied going forward. In fact, the CDC has declared, “COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and will continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”

But the safety of the product itself is only part of the question. Will it protect kids from COVID-19? The answer is yes. In trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine performed as well as it did in adults, with about 91% efficacy. Simply, it will help keep kids safe.

In fact, it’s far more dangerous for children to contract COVID-19, which can leave them with heart inflammation and “long COVID” symptoms. In an MSNBC interview on October 30, physician and health equity expert Dr. Uche Blackstock said, “For 2021, COVID is going to be in the top 10 causes of death for [children 5-11 years old]. That’s why this vaccine is a game-changer. This is a vaccine-preventable illness.”

What do I do if my child is afraid of needles?

Fear of needles and injections is common among children and young teens. But instead of arguing with your child, ignoring their fear, or giving up on the vaccine altogether, try the CARD technique:

  • Comfort: Ask your child what will make them more comfortable when they get the shot. They might want to hold hands, sit in a parent’s lap, or bring a favorite toy.
  • Ask: Let your child ask whatever questions they have about the vaccine, but also ask the person administering the shot if there’s anything they can do for your child. For example, they may have a topical anesthetic to reduce the sensation of the needle.
  • Relax: Before your appointment, practice deep breathing, positive self-talk, or other relaxation techniques with your child. Use those techniques during the injection.
  • Distract: Offer a distraction while the shot is being given. This could be showing your child a YouTube video, letting them play a mobile game, telling a story or jokes, etc. – whatever works for them.

Don’t lie to your child by saying the vaccine “won’t hurt at all,” and don’t scold them for being scared or crying. Reassure them that it will be over soon and that the vaccine is important to keep them safe and healthy.


We’re still in a pandemic and flu season is on its way. Protect yourself and your family. If you’re still concerned about getting the vaccine yourself or having your children vaccinated, please talk to a medical professional.

And if you do find yourself sick at home and in need of your prescriptions, ask your pharmacy about ScriptDrop delivery. We’re here to help you stay safe.