INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana residents at high-risk who previously received a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine can now get booster shots.

The Indiana Department of Health announced Friday that it will begin offering booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine to eligible Hoosiers following federal authorization of the additional dose. Booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been available since late September.

That’s important news for the four-county area, as most local residents received Moderna vaccines during the initial vaccine blitz earlier this year, as that vaccine was most commonly stocked at local clinics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday approved the administration of a booster dose of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine to counter waning immunity against COVID-19. The FDA and CDC have previously authorized booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine in specific populations, as well as a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna for immunocompromised individuals.

The CDC has issued booster eligibility guidance:

{div}For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after their initial series:{/div}

• 65 years and older

• Age 18 and older who live in long-term care settings

• Age 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions

• Age 18 and older who work or live in high-risk settings

Booster doses are also recommended for anyone 18 or older who got the single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine two or more months ago.

While high-risk individuals are now able to get a booster dose regardless of what vaccine they initially got, the CDC has also OK’d the use of mix-and-match regimen of vaccines.

Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix-and-match dosing for booster shots.

“The approval of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters will help provide additional protection to many Hoosiers, especially our most vulnerable residents in long-term care facilities and others who are most at risk,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box. “The COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide strong protection against severe illness and death. Whether Hoosiers are getting their first dose or a booster shot, they will find vaccines widely available across the state.”

Booster doses are recommended in order to boost the immune system’s ability to identify and destroy the COVID-19 virus.

All three vaccines showed high efficacy against COVID-19 — Pfizer and Moderna provided better initial immunity as compared to Johnson & Johnson — but scientists and doctors have continued to study the long-range effect of the vaccines to look for signs of fading efficacy.

Some vaccines are one-and-done, with a person gaining lifetime immunity after a single shot. Others may require boosters on an as-needed basis or after decades, while other shots require periodic maintenance.

Since the COVID-19 vaccines are only about a year old, it’s unknown whether boosters will become a regular practice or whether immunity may be more long-standing after being boosted.

Pfizer vaccines are the only ones approved for use in people younger than 18 currently, with those shots able to be administered to people age 12-17, too.

The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine showed the lowest initial efficacy, but only required one dose. Federal regulators paused distribution of that shot earlier this year temporarily while investigating a severe side effect involving blood clots primarily seen in certain young- to middle-aged women. At the time fewer than a dozen women had experience the very rare side effect.

Most people generally experience mild to no side effects, with sore arm being the most common. Others may experience mild cold-like symptoms if their body mounts an immune response, including fever, headache and fatigue. More serious adverse effects are exceedingly rare, but can occur, so people receiving vaccines should monitor their health after receiving one.

Eligible Hoosiers who want to obtain a booster dose can go to to find a location or call 211 for assistance.

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