Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast: Breaking down the booster terminology for COVID-19 vaccines



COVID-19 vaccine boosters will soon be recommended 8 months after a person’s second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to news reports.

“A vaccine booster dose is generally an additional dose above and beyond the primary series needed to achieve protective immunity,” says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. “So the dose that was approved this past week would be better classified as an “additional dose” for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.”

Dr. Poland says those people will have already received two doses but need the additional dose in order to improve their immune response to the vaccine. Dr. Poland continues, “If we got to the point where we would offer a third dose of the same vaccine to older adults, health care providers and essential workers that would be a booster dose. Then if we used a variant-specific vaccine, which researchers are working on, that would be called a variant booster dose.”