Updated September 24th, 2021.
The CDC is now recommending a booster, or third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to some adults. This new update allows for millions of Americans considered at the highest risk to further increase their protection against COVID-19. Here’s everything we know about the update so far:
Who is eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot?
According to the CDC, people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should get a booster, as well as people 50 to 64 years old who have an underlying medical condition. The CDC also suggests that those 18 years and older with underlying health conditions or an increased risk due to occupational or institutional setting exposure, speak with their primary care provider to determine if the booster shot is right for them.
When should I get the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot if I’m eligible?
Those that qualify for the booster shot should receive it at least six months after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. As these recommendations are new, local Departments of Public Health are currently partnering with healthcare providers and facilities to support these new recommendations. Additional information should be available in the coming weeks.
What medical conditions meet the criteria to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot?
People 50 years and older with the following underlying medical conditions should contact their primary care provider or community pharmacy to schedule a third dose. People 18 to 49 with these conditions who received their last dose of the Pfizer vaccine 6 or more months ago can also consider discussing with their primary care provider whether the booster shot is right for them.
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung disease
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 and 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions
- Immunocompromised state
- Liver disease
- Overweight and obesity
- Sickle cell disease
- Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
- Substance use disorders
What if I received a COVID-19 vaccine that wasn’t Pfizer?
The CDC is continuing to review data associated with those that received the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines to properly make a recommendation on booster shots associated with these vaccines in the coming weeks. They have not made an official statement or recommendation. Stay tuned for an update on our blog and as always, contact your primary care provider if you have any questions about your eligibility.
The new, broader booster recommendations are in addition to the earlier recommendation for people with weakened immune systems. People with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or receipt of immunosuppressive medications or treatments include but are not limited to:
- Active treatment for cancer
- Organ, CAR-T-cell, or stem cell transplant
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with medications that can suppress the immune system (i.e. high-dose steroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related drugs, chemotherapy, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents)
According to the FDA and CDC, these immunocompromised individuals have a reduced ability to fight infections, which makes them more vulnerable to infections, severe or prolonged disease, and hospitalizations, as well as more likely to transmit COVID-19 to household contacts. Studies have shown that those who are immunocompromised may not be adequately protected against COVID-19 with the standard two-dose series and are experiencing breakthrough infections at higher rates. Early data, for instance, has found that 40 to 44% of hospitalized breakthrough cases in the U.S. and Israel have been among immunocompromised individuals. Receiving a third dose of the mRNA vaccines may help boost immunity protection against COVID-19 among this high-risk population, as well as help reduce the spread of the virus.
I am immunocompromised. How long after my second dose can I receive the third?
For those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised who have received two doses of an mRNA vaccine (i.e. Pfizer or Moderna), the FDA and CDC recommend a third dose of the same vaccine 28 days or more after the second. If the same vaccine is not available, an alternate mRNA vaccine may be administered, though more research is needed to understand whether receiving a third dose of a different brand is safe and effective.
I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Do I need an additional shot?
If you received a J&J vaccine, no additional vaccination — a second J&J dose or an additional mRNA vaccine — is being recommended at this time. Early data has found the J&J vaccine to be highly effective against all COVID-19 variants and nearly 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death. While we’re aware of a few cities that are allowing J&J recipients to receive an mRNA vaccine, it is not specifically recommended by public health officials at this time. Clinical trials are underway to determine the safety, effectiveness, and need for additional vaccination after receiving J&J.
How can I get a shot if I qualify for a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot?
We are working with local health departments to prepare for how to offer 3rd dose vaccines to our members who qualify at this time. If you’re eligible to get a 3rd dose of the vaccine, more guidance will be released in the coming weeks on where they will be available. If you have any questions about getting a 3rd dose, get in touch with your primary care provider.
It is important that those who are immunocompromised continue to wear a mask and maintain social distancing precautions to help prevent COVID-19 infection. If you are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, we recommend scheduling a visit with a provider for close monitoring and to discuss your treatment options which may include monoclonal antibody therapy.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County,Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
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