COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are on the way. What does that mean for you?

A young woman gets a vaccine at a table.
Austin High School student Elsi Yesenia Flores, 17, prepares to get her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in May.
Catharine Richert | MPR News file

According to reports from The New York Times, The Associated Press and other sources, President Joe Biden’s administration is planning to recommend COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for most Americans eight months after their second dose. The third shots could be available as early as mid-September.

The news comes after last week’s guidance on booster shots for the immunocompromised.  

Dr. Jon Hallberg, medical director of the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic, joined host Tom Crann to answer common questions about booster shots.

At this moment, only a “pretty small subset of people” with weakened immune systems are eligible for booster shots, Hallberg said. Most Americans will become eligible once the anticipated announcement from U.S. health officials comes this week, but third shots won’t be widely available right away.

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Hallberg stressed that none of this means there’s something wrong with the COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccinations are working “very effectively” at keeping breakthrough cases out of the ICU and preventing serious illness from COVID-19, he said.

Instead, the recommendation for booster shots is the natural result of months of research, Hallberg said: “This is how the science evolves. … It’s becoming clear that we should probably all be getting a booster shot, which is no different than many vaccines that we give [from] childhood.”

Hallberg advised listeners to “be patient” as health systems catch up with the new guidance and to remember that “If you’ve had your vaccine series, you are immune to a great degree. This is just simply a booster.”

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.