COVID-19 Booster FAQs

The information on this page has been reproduced from South Western Sydney Local Health District's COVID-19 Booster Information flier.


What is a COVID-19 booster? 

A COVID-19 booster is an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine given to increase protection against coronavirus disease. Health experts recommend that everyone aged 16 years and over should have a COVID-19 booster, so that they are “up-to-date” with their COVID-19 vaccination.


The booster dose is voluntary, so why should l have it? 

COVID-19 booster vaccines are not mandatory, however, they are highly recommended to better protect you, your loved ones and your community against COVID-19.
Immunity against COVID-19 drops over time, which means the risk of getting the virus increases. A booster dose strengthens your immune system, reducing your risk of  
serious illness. 

The Omicron variant spreads very easily, and can cause serious illness or death, so it’s important to get extra protection from a booster vaccine. This is especially important as we head towards winter, when the risk of COVID-19 spread increases. 

Having higher antibody levels in your blood also means you will be less infectious if you do catch COVID-19. This lowers the risk of you spreading the virus to your family, friends and others.

Getting a booster is very important if you are over 50, are pregnant, or have underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes, as you are more at risk of  serious illness from the virus.


Why do we now need three doses instead of two doses? 

The Omicron variant is better at getting past your immune system - infecting you and spreading infection to others. 

A third vaccine dose boosts your protection against COVID-19. If you do catch the virus, the booster dose will keep you safe from serious illness, and help keep you out of hospital. 

You can get a booster if you are aged 16 years and over and it has been three months or more since your second dose.


Is the booster shot a stronger vaccine? 

The booster dose is not stronger – it is the same as the first and second vaccine doses. 

The extra dose helps your body’s immune system to remember how to fight the virus.

The booster vaccines used most often are either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine. Novavax can also be used as a booster for those 18 years old and above.


Are the side effects from a booster different to the first two doses? 

You may get mild side effects after getting your booster dose, very similar to those after the first or second vaccine doses.

They can include a sore arm, mild fever, muscle aches or feeling tired, lasting a day or two at most. 

Many people experience no side effects at all from COVID vaccines.

Talk to your GP if you are worried.


I have had COVID-19 before, should I still get a booster dose? 

Yes, it is highly recommended you have the booster dose even if you’ve had COVID-19. This will give you better protection, for a longer time.

You can get a booster vaccination once you have fully recovered from the virus. For most people this is around 4-6 weeks after infection.

Get your booster as soon as you’re eligible. Check your booster eligibility on the NSW Government website.


What if I have more questions? 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your booster further, please talk to your local doctor, or local pharmacist.

You can also call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 (choose  option 8 for a free interpreter). Otherwise, for an interpreter call TIS on 131 450.