Booster vaccine: When and where can I get boosted, and why should I bother?

Dr Muiris Houston: Are you entitled to a booster vaccine, and will it work against new strains?

What’s the latest on booster vaccines?

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee has issued updated recommendations for Covid-19 booster vaccinations.

So who can get boosted and when?

The HSE has announced that all those aged 50-64 should now receive a second booster vaccine. The full recommendations for vaccines are as follows.


A first Covid-19 booster vaccine is recommended: for those aged 5-11 who experienced a suboptimal response to vaccines at the time of their primary or additional vaccination; for all those aged 65 and older and those who were immunocompromised at the time of their first booster and who have not yet availed of the previously recommended second booster vaccine.

A second Covid-19 booster vaccine is now recommended for: those aged 12-49 who have underlying medical conditions associated with a higher risk of severe Covid-19; for those aged 12-49 who are residents of long-term care facilities; for healthcare workers (ideally to be administered at the same time as the seasonal influenza vaccine).

A second Covid-19 booster vaccine is recommended in pregnancy at 16 weeks gestation or later for: those who have not received a booster vaccine in the current pregnancy; and for those aged 50-64.

A third Covid-19 booster vaccine is recommended for: those aged 65 and older; and those aged 12-64 with a suboptimal response to vaccines at the time of their primary or booster vaccination.

I’m not 60 yet, but can I just go ahead and book?

The HSE has announced a phased introduction of the new recommendations starting on August 15th for those aged 60 and over, with weekly additions by age band to follow. Ideally, if you are aged 50-60 you should wait until your cohort date is announced by the HSE. However, in previous campaigns, it has been possible to book “out of phase”. Appointments can be made at

Is it still important to get a booster vaccine?

Yes, it is vital. Booster vaccines, which are all of the mRNA type produced by Pfizer or Moderna, decrease the chance of you being hospitalised with serious Covid-19 infection.

Are booster vaccines still effective?

Booster vaccines are still effective in preventing serious and life-threatening illness. However, they have not been as successful at preventing the transfer of infection between humans as they were initially. As different versions of the Omicron strain of the virus have emerged, the length of vaccine effectiveness has declined.

Do they work against new strains?

Established vaccines have limited effect on the transmissibility of the latest variants of the Sars-CoV-2 virus. But they remain highly effective at preventing a serious bout of illness and they reduce the risk of hospital admission.

With the advent of the B. 4 and B. 5 subvariants of Covid, the vaccines, originally introduced in late 2020 when the Alpha variant of the virus was dominant, have become somewhat blunted. Several pharmaceutical companies are working on producing an updated vaccine, which it is hoped may be available sometime in October.

Where can I get boosted?

You can:

· Book a booster appointment online at HSE vaccination clinics

· Check with participating GPs and pharmacies

· Visit for more information

Muiris Houston

Dr Muiris Houston

Dr Muiris Houston is medical journalist, health analyst and Irish Times contributor