Questions about booster shots? Look no further


Published November 19, 2021

Nancy Nielsen.

Nancy Nielsen


The topic of booster shots is becoming bigger by the week in the UB community and beyond as people seek to understand new guidance from public health officials. It wasn’t that long ago when many people received their first vaccination shot. Now that six months have passed, vaccinated people are increasingly asking about the need and protocols for receiving a booster.

Nancy Nielsen, senior associate dean for health policy in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, answered a few questions to inform the UB community about the benefits of receiving a booster shot.

Who is eligible to receive a booster?

All students who live on-campus can receive the booster if they were vaccinated at least two months ago with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or six months ago with the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. The same goes for UB faculty and staff because they work in a setting that qualifies as “high risk.”

That’s thousands of people within the UB community who are eligible to receive a booster shot. For more information, you can check the CDC’s guidelines or call UB Health Services.

Many other UB students are eligible under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent pronouncement that anyone who is time-eligible and feels at risk should go get a booster now.

I’m young, healthy and vaccinated. Do I really need a booster?

Yes. If you get a booster shot, you’ll not only decrease the likelihood that you'll get infected, but you’ll be protecting others as well. That’s particularly important for people — such as the unvaccinated, the immunocompromised and older adults — who are at greater risk for developing serious disease.

Recent data show that protection afforded by the vaccines does decrease over time. Receiving a booster can augment immunity to a level even higher than initially following full vaccination and help to ensure the long-term safety of our campus community.

Will there be side effects? I don’t want to get sick and miss class or work.

So far, reactions to booster shots are similar to what people experienced when receiving initial vaccine doses. Some people experience no side effects. Others may get a fever, sore arm, headache or feel tired. Most of these symptoms are mild or moderate. And serious side effects are very rare.

It’s important to note, too, that the side effects and potential time lost from receiving a booster are far less severe than what would be experienced with COVID-19.

Where can I get a booster?

UB’s on-campus flu and COVID-19 vaccination clinics are being extended until Dec. 16. The clinics will take Thanksgiving week off, and will resume on Nov. 30. The locations and days/times remain the same.

You can also receive a booster at Harriman Hall on the South Campus. At this New York State-run site, you can walk in or schedule an appointment by visiting the state’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment website.

Booster doses are also free and available statewide at pharmacies, local health departments, clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and other locations across New York State. Visit vaccines.gov or text your zip code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.

What else can I do stop the spread of COVID-19?

Wear a mask when indoors in public places, and outdoors at large events. Continue to practice good hand hygiene. The practices we put into place before vaccines became available are effective.