In addition to shortening the interval between Pfizer's and Moderna's booster and initial vaccine series, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a booster for adolescents ages 12 to 15.

The CDC's vote followed emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration that confirmed the safety of a booster in those 12 and up once enough time has passed since their last dose. Pfizer is the only COVID vaccine in the U.S. approved for children 5 and up.

And with the rapid spread of omicron, everyone is encouraged to get theirs when they can, said Dr. David Priest, Novant Health chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer.
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Dr. David Priest

“We are seeing an increase in positive cases among children. Similar to adults, the majority of children we're caring for in the hospital are unvaccinated and that's true across the country. If parents are still unsure about getting their child vaccinated or boosted, now is the time to reach out to your pediatrician so you can make an informed decision," Priest said.

Omicron is 2 to 3 times more contagious than delta, he added, and up to 6 times more contagious than the original strains of COVID.

As a result, the CDC also recommends some immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11 receive a third Pfizer shot (considered an additional vaccine in its primary series) 28 days after their second dose.

Individuals who received the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna are eligible for a booster five months after the second dose in their initial vaccine series, federal regulators agreed. This was shortened from a waiting period of six months.

Boosters are still recommended for all adults two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And booster-eligible adults can choose which brand they receive.

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines recommended over J&J

In line with the CDC’s recommendation to use mRNA vaccines over Johnson & Johnson, Novant Health is exclusively offering Moderna and Pfizer COVID immunizations for the primary series. People who experienced an allergic reaction to an mRNA vaccine can, however, opt to receive a J&J booster at Novant Health.

The CDC update cited the risk of blood clots linked to J&J’s vaccine.

“I would emphasize that the adverse events the CDC includes in their latest report are incredibly rare and involve blood clotting. However, COVID-19 itself creates much higher risk of blood clots than the vaccine does. Despite these changes, J&J has been important tool and protected millions of people around the world from getting COVID,” Priest said.

Individuals who prefer or are only eligible for the J&J vaccine are encouraged to check NCDHHS or a retail pharmacy for availability.

Where can I get a COVID-19 test?

Omicron symptoms most commonly present as upper respiratory infections, sore throat, fever, cough and congestion. "I don't personally see as much of the loss of smell and taste we saw earlier in the pandemic," Priest said of the new variant.

For people seeking a COVID-19 test, please do not go to the Emergency Department unless you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms such as shortness of breath or low oxygen levels.

Novant Health testing locations and hours are located here. To help reduce wait times and ensure availability of tests, people are asked to make an appointment. Novant Health patients can also call their primary care physician’s office to inquire about testing.

Keep in mind, asymptomatic patients who are seeking travel, return-to-work or return-to-school clearance are asked to use NCDHHS to find a location that best suits their needs.

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Novant Health asks anyone who wants a booster to make an appointment. You don't need to be a Novant Health patient to schedule. And keep in mind, all COVID-19 vaccines are free —even for the uninsured.

Ways to schedule include:

  • MyChart: MyChart is the best way to schedule an appointment. Anyone can create a MyChart account by visiting Appointment availability can be accessed under Visits > Schedule an appointment > COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • Anyone can schedule an appointment online.
  • Primary care clinics: established patients are able to call their primary care clinic to schedule an appointment at that clinic, if it is offering the vaccine, or at the nearest Novant Health vaccination site.
  • Those who do not have access to the internet or a primary care provider can call 855-NH-VAC-4U (855-648-2248) for scheduling assistance.

What's this I'm hearing about a fourth dose?

Dr. Charles Bregier
Dr. Charles Bregier

Some people with weakened immune systems are eligible for a fourth dose, the CDC confirmed, once enough time has passed since their third COVID vaccine — which is considered part of the primary immunization series, not a booster.

Immunocompromised individuals became eligible for a third dose in August 2021, meaning the earliest someone can receive a fourth dose is five months after their third Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

"Any patient who has a history of being moderately to severely immunocompromised should discuss whether or not they are good candidates for a fourth dose with their health care provider," said Dr. Charles Bregier, Novant Health medical director of corporate health.

"And get a fourth dose, if it's recommended," he added.

Can I get my booster at the same time as my flu shot?

Yes. You can receive COVID-19 vaccines the same day as other vaccines.

How will you verify my eligibility? Is identification required?

Individuals self-identify and attest to their eligibility status. You will not be asked for any identification or proof of residency. Insurance is not required, however patients are asked for insurance information if they have it for filing of the administration of the vaccine purposes only.

Should I bring my vaccine card?

Yes, please bring your vaccine card. Physical cards and photos of cards will be accepted. If you have lost your vaccination card, and you did not receive your previous doses with Novant Health, you should contact the site where you obtained your vaccine series to confirm the product you received and dates.

If you have lost your vaccination card, and you did receive your previous doses with Novant Health, we will be able to access your records and issue a replacement card.