Everything you need to know about booster vaccinations
The COVID-19 vaccines licensed in Germany provide effective protection against severe illness.
However, studies show that vaccination protection decreases over time and that the immune response is weaker in those who are older or have pre-existing conditions, for example. A booster vaccination significantly increases protection. The body makes more antibodies, allowing it to establish even more effective protection against the virus. The booster vaccination enhances the immune system – hence the name. A booster is required due to the increasing spread of the very contagious Omicron variant in Germany: for individual protection as well as to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
The Standing Commission on Vaccination recommends that everyone aged 12 and over should get a booster jab at least three months after their last vaccination. For further information, see here and here.
The Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends a booster vaccination with an mRNA vaccine for all vaccinated persons aged 12 and above – usually at an interval of at least three months after the second vaccination.
For an overview of the STIKO recommendations for coronavirus vaccinations, see the
International studies suggest that booster protection starts after about seven to twelve days after vaccination. See here for details.
Regardless of which vaccine was used for the first and second vaccination, an mRNA vaccine (BioNTech, Moderna) should be used for the booster. Both mRNA vaccines are equally suitable as boosters: they are effective, safe and efficient. The STIKO recommends vaccination exclusively with the BioNTech vaccine for all persons under 30 years of age. Both mRNA vaccines are equally suitable for those aged 30 and over.
Are the vaccines that are used for booster vaccination (mRNA vaccines) adapted to the new virus variants?
It can currently be assumed that the available vaccines are also effective against infection with the known virus variants, especially the so-called Delta variant.
With regard to vaccine efficacy against the Omicron virus variant, initial results of clinical trials indicate that the efficacy of initial immunisation against symptomatic disease as a result of infection with the Omicron variant decreases markedly over time and is significantly lower as compared to efficacy against the Delta variant. From about 15 weeks after the second vaccine dose, it can no longer be assumed that an individual has sufficient protection against disease based on initial vaccination alone. However, initial data indicates that sound protection against the Omicron variant is offered by booster vaccination.
For this reason, the following applies: all vaccinated persons aged 12 and older should receive a booster vaccination with an mRNA vaccine at least three months after their last vaccination. This is the best protection against the Omicron variant.
Booster vaccinations are available from mobile vaccination teams, general practitioners, in-house doctors and vaccination centres, for example. The organisation and implementation of the booster vaccination programme is the responsibility of the federal states. In future, pharmacies and dentists will also be able to offer vaccinations. An amendment to the Vaccination Ordinance to this effect is in preparation.
For up-to-date details of local arrangements, see the website of your federal state government.
- Those particularly at risk – such as people who live in or receive care in nursing homes, as well as all those aged over 70 and people with immunodeficiency – should receive a second booster no sooner than three months after the first booster.
- In addition, health workers – especially if they have direct contact with vulnerable people entrusted to their care – are also recommended to obtain a second booster, no sooner than six months after the first booster.
What applies to fully vaccinated people who have received a series with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson?
Those who received their first vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vector vaccine should have their basic immunisation optimised with an additional mRNA vaccination four weeks after the vaccination; they can then receive a booster vaccination at least three months later.
Those who received their first series of vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vector vaccine can also receive a booster with an mRNA vaccine at least three months after the second vaccination. The same applies to those who have received a cross-vaccination (1st shot: vector vaccine + 2nd shot: mRNA vaccine).
Here, please note the current recommendations issued by the . See here for more information about booster vaccinations.
Yes. All vaccinations against the coronavirus that are carried out under the Vaccination Ordinance are available to citizens free of charge. This also applies to booster vaccinations.
For all the main questions and answers on coronavirus vaccinations, see the other FAQ.