COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots and Eligibility

booster covid vaccineAs COVID-19 vaccine booster shots become available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided information on shots and eligibility.

This article compiles important information from the CDC. Visit www.cdc.gov/covid-19 for more information.

COVID-19 VACCINE BOOSTER SHOTS

Studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time and provide less protection against the  coronavirus Delta variant. Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults ages 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggests vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms. Emerging evidence also shows that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is decreasing over time among health care and other frontline workers. This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of reduced protection as time passes since getting vaccinated (e.g., waning immunity) and the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant.

Data from clinical trials show that booster shots increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their primary series months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

At this time, only certain populations can get a booster shot. COVID-19 booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least six months ago:

  • Adults ages 65 years and older
  • Adults with underlying medical conditions ages 18 years and older
  • Residents in long-term care settings ages 18 years and older
  • Employees in high-risk settings ages 18 years and older, including first responders, education staff, manufacturing workers, public transit workers and grocery store workers
  • Residents in high-risk settings ages 18 years and older

In addition, COVID-19 booster shots are recommended for the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, are 18 and older, and were vaccinated two or more months ago.

To find a COVID-19 booster shot near you, check your local pharmacy’s website for vaccination walk-ins or appointments, or contact your state or local health department for more information.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)covid pharmacy vaccine booster

If you have additional questions about COVID-19 booster shots, check out these FAQs from the CDC:

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster if I am NOT in one of the recommended groups?

Additional populations may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data becomes available. The COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the United States continue to be effective at reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working for different populations. This includes looking at how new variants, like Delta, affect vaccine effectiveness.

If we need a booster shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?

No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease.

What are the risks to getting a booster shot?

So far, reactions reported after getting the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna booster shots were similar to that of the two-shot primary series. Fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects were mild to moderate. Similarly, recipients of a J&J booster should expect similar side effects to the primary dose. However, as with a primary vaccine series, serious side effects are rare but may occur.

Am I still considered “fully vaccinated” if I don’t get a booster shot?

Yes. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J vaccine.

What is the difference between a booster shot and an additional dose?

A booster shot is administered when a person has completed their vaccine series and protection against the virus has decreased over time. This additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is intended to improve their response to their initial vaccine series.

VACCINATION RECORD CARD AND BOOSTER SHOTS

At your first vaccination appointment, you should have received a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it and where you received it. You should bring the vaccination card to your booster shot vaccination appointment.

If you did not receive a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination site where you got your first shot or your state health department to find out how you can get a card.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you’re struggling to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, the CDC recommends the additional methods:

  • Search vaccines.gov
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829
  • Call 1-800-232-0233

The CDC will continue to update its recommendations as new research and booster shots become available. If you have additional questions about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor or health care provider. This information was adapted from the CDC website. Stay tuned for more relevant healthcare, compliance, and benefits news on our Twitter or LinkedIn.