You can now get a new Covid booster shot. Should you?

Unless you are old or otherwise at high risk, it isn't a 'slam dunk'

Covid booster billboard in Minnesota
Covid booster billboard in St. Paul, Minnesota
(Image credit: Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Advisers to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted Tuesday to recommend that all Americans 6 months and older get a newly approved booster shot for Covid-19, and CDC Director Mandy Cohen quickly signed off on the recommendations. That means the booster shots, from Pfizer and Moderna, will be available as soon as Wednesday, and people with private or government-supplied health insurance should get boosted free of charge.

Pfizer and Moderna presented clinical data Tuesday that showed the new shots — which only target one strain, the Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5. — are effective at protecting against the newer strains now circulating.

So, should you get a booster this fall?

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"Vaccination remains the best protection against Covid-19-related hospitalization and death," the CDC said. "Vaccination also reduces your chance of suffering the effects of long Covid" or passing the illness along to someone with a higher risk profile. 

Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at U.C. San Francisco, told NPR News that unless you are 75 or older or have chronic health problems, deciding whether to get the booster is "a little bit of four-dimensional chess."

"It's an easy decision for an older person or someone with medical comorbidities to get the booster because they are at significant risk of a severe case," Wachter said. But "a 25-year-old healthy person has a very low risk of getting very sick if they get Covid." The other benefits of the vaccine "tilt the scales to favoring the vaccine," though, he added, and even if it's not "a slam dunk" for healthy younger adults, "I think the benefits outweigh the risks in pretty much everybody."

People should get used to thinking about annual Covid boosters "like they think about the flu shot," family physician Sterling Ransone Jr. told The Washington Post. "It's not a plastic bubble we are putting you in that Covid can't get to you. Now that we've gotten back to a more normal lifestyle, you can get exposed to the virus, and we want you to have the best protection you can."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.