By Caroline Vandergriff

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The COVID-19 vaccine booster shot is now available to all adults in the U.S.

The FDA and CDC signed off on the expanded eligibility late last Friday, Nov. 19 in the hopes of getting ahead of a potential winter surge this holiday season.

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“We need all the all the protection we can get right now,” said Dr. Mo Rezaie, a physician at Fort Worth Primary Care.

Under new federal rules, anyone 18 or older can now get either a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after their last dose.

The wait is just two months for those who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

People can mix-and-match boosters from any company.

All three of the vaccines continue to be effective at preventing severe illness and death, but immunity does lessen over time.

“That’s why getting a vaccine after having COVID is important and getting a booster after having your initial round is important too,” Dr. Jay Herd, Chief Medical Officer at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth.

Doctors recommend those with health issues make it a priority to get the additional protection.

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“Including pregnant women,” said Dr. Rezaie. “Anybody who’s really vulnerable to infections, especially now that we’re entering the colder weather, the holiday season.”

Those who are young and healthy should consider it as well.

“Even if you don’t get sick with it, you can pass it along,” Dr. Herd said. “So that’s why if you boost your immunity, you’ll be less likely to pass it on.”

Many patients ask whether they should get lab work done to check their titers or antibody level first.

“And the overwhelming answer is no,” Dr. Rezaie said.

“The problem is we don’t have a quantitative antibody test that will tell us this number is good as far as your immunity,” said Dr. Herd.

Doctors say there’s no increased risk of side effects with the booster than with the previous shots.

“You may have a sore shoulder, you may have flu-like symptoms, you may feel bad or have a low grade temperature,” Dr. Herd said. “Some people don’t have that, but a lot of people will.”

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Studies have shown very high protection just one or two weeks after the booster shot.

Caroline Vandergriff