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Rolling up your sleeves again may offer you the boost you need for the holidays and start to the new year.

With the spread of COVID-19 continuing to rise, millions of Americans are getting their booster shot as a way to further protect themselves from illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says Americans 16 and older should get a booster. They are recommended at least six months after receiving the second Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine and at least two months after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.

This time around, people can choose the brand of booster they want to receive based on their preference or what’s most easily available to them. Some may opt to get the vaccine brand that they originally received, while others may prefer to get a different booster. The CDC now allows for this type of mixing and matching of booster shots – and remember that boosters, like the primary COVID vaccines, are free of charge whether you have insurance or not.

Why is it important for many Americans to get a booster now?

According to the CDC, new evidence shows waning protection against mild and moderate COVID disease after people are fully vaccinated for several months. Getting improved immunity is critically important now as we head into the holidays and winter months in which people are much more likely to gather indoors and be near each other.

The new booster recommendations do not mean the vaccine is not working. The two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are still effective at reducing serious cases of COVID — including the Delta variant. They also continue to reduce hospitalizations and death.

In addition, it’s important to note that the CDC still considers someone fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Where can you get a booster?

The vaccine – both as a booster and as an initial series – is available in health clinics, doctors’ offices and major retail pharmacies, including Walgreens and CVS. Minnesotans are also heading to special COVID vaccine clinics being held at elementary schools, community centers – even the Mall of America (MOA) where the State of Minnesota has created a community vaccination site. MOA is offering vaccinations for 5-11 year-olds, primary series doses to ages 12 and up, and boosters to ages 16 and up. Walk-ins are welcome and appointments can be made here.

The State of Minnesota also recently announced that as part of its Celebrate Safely, Minnesota  campaign, roughly 35 state school-based vaccination clinics for ages 5-11 will begin offering booster shots to parents of children receiving their first or second dose in December and the first week of January. Additional 5-11 vaccine clinics will begin offering boosters as planning continues.

If you have questions about whether the COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster, is right for you, contact your health care provider. To find vaccination providers near you, visit vaccines.gov. The Council has also teamed up with the Minnesota Hospital Association to provide information on childhood vaccinations, including the COVID vaccine, as part of a Best Shot for a Great School Year campaign.