The approval of COVID-19 “booster” shots—an additional, third dose of the coronavirus vaccine—is likely. But how will the rollout of booster shots work? Who should get them, and how do we even get a booster shot in the first place? If you’ve got questions, we’ve got the answers. Read on to learn more about the latest wave of COVID-19 immunization.
WHO WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A BOOSTER SHOT?
In early August, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authorized and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommended additional booster shots of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for certain immunocompromised populations.
- Patients undergoing cancer treatments
- Organ transplant patients
- Recent stem cell transplant patients
- Patients with advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Patients with moderate or severe immunodeficiency
- Patients currently being treated with medications that suppress the immune system
Starting in late September, booster shots will also become available for the general population in approved age groups who have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines—both of which are mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Patients who do not classify under the approved list of immunocompromised populations but have received both doses of one of the aforementioned mRNA COVID-19 vaccines will, most likely, not qualify for a booster shot until after eight months after their second dose.
As of this writing, the Pfizer vaccine has full FDA approval (which was granted in late August), while the Moderna vaccine currently holds FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
Booster shots are not yet available for those who received the one dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine—however, it is highly likely that a booster shot for this specific vaccine will become available in the future.
WHY SHOULD I GET A COVID-19 BOOSTER SHOT?
“Increasing overall population immunity is what will turn the tide on the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains STChealth’s Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Kyle Freese, PhD, MPH. “Vaccination is far preferable to natural infection because of the demonstrated safety and the strong evidence of it preventing severe morbidity and mortality. However, as ongoing research suggests, immunity likely wanes over time; for individuals at high risk of adverse outcomes from SARS-CoV-2 infection, booster shots can provide additional protection, particularly as the winter months approach and additional exposures are likely to occur.”
WHEN CAN I GET A BOOSTER SHOT?
After the FDA and CDC officially approve booster shots—which is anticipated to happen in late September—all adults who have had both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA COVID-19 will be eligible for a booster shot eight months after their second shot of the vaccine. Just like when the COVID-19 vaccines first became available, priority will be given to high-risk groups. Booster shots are expected to be as widely available as current COVID-19 vaccines are, and the process should be similar to getting your first and second doses of the vaccine. Proof of current vaccination status will, most likely, be required when determining COVID-19 booster eligibility and at immunization appointments for the booster shot.
HOW DO I TRACK MY COVID-19 IMMUNIZATION STATUS?
Since most people who plan to get a COVID-19 booster shot will have to wait eight months until they are eligible for the additional dose, proof of prior COVID-19 status and details such as vaccine manufacturer, lot number and the date of their second dose of the vaccine will be needed to determine if and when they qualify to receive the booster shot. MyIR Mobile (myirmobile.com) is a great—and free—option for proving immunization status and accessing individual immunization records from anywhere. Once you’ve received your booster shot, you can also use MyIR Mobile to prove COVID-19 booster status. It is also recommended to save your original, physical COVID-19 immunization card from the CDC—just in case.