COVID-19 Booster Shots: Top Questions Answered
Sept. 24, 2021 — The FDA and the CDC this week introduced that sure teams of individuals at excessive danger for critical COVID-19 an infection can now get a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
You and your family and friends might have questions: Am I eligible? The place do I am going to get a booster? Do I’ve to indicate proof of being high-risk? Am I nonetheless totally vaccinated if I’m eligible for a booster and don’t obtain one?
We break down the commonest questions concerning the up to date Pfizer booster pointers.
What are boosters?
A booster is an additional dose of vaccine to provide you extra safety towards a illness; on this case, COVID-19.
“Mainly, boosters are precisely what the phrase says,” based on Anita Gupta, DO, an adjunct assistant professor of anesthesiology and important care drugs and ache drugs on the Johns Hopkins College Faculty of Drugs.
“Boosters enable folks to have an elevated immune response.”
The additional dose of vaccine is very vital for the aged and folks with weakened immune techniques from circumstances like most cancers, diabetes, or weight problems, because of new variants being found, says Gupta.
“There’s a risk that the immune response from the two-dose vaccine sequence might not be sufficient, particularly in people who can be significantly weak.
“So, the objective is admittedly to assist these people in the event that they doubtlessly have been confronted with new variants and to make sure that they don’t have any poor immune response in the event that they’re confronted with it.”
Who’s eligible for the Pfizer booster?
Sure teams of people that have been totally vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine for six months or longer can now obtain a single Pfizer booster dose, according to up to date FDA emergency use authorization pointers.
You’ll be able to’t obtain the Pfizer booster in the event you acquired different COVID-19 vaccines, like Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
You may get a Pfizer booster in the event you acquired the Pfizer vaccine and are part of certainly one of these teams:
- 65 years previous or older
- 18 years previous or older and at excessive danger for extreme COVID-19
- For those who work or reside in a state of affairs that places you at excessive danger for extreme COVID-19. For instance, well being care staff, lecturers, and folks in prisons and homeless shelters.
Go here to see in the event you or somebody is at excessive danger for extreme COVID-19.
When can I count on to obtain a Pfizer booster if I acquired one other COVID-19 vaccine, like Moderna or Johnson & Johnson?
The precise date is unknown, however it shouldn’t take too lengthy, given Moderna not too long ago submitted information to the FDA, and Johnson & Johnson will probably be following go well with very shortly.
U.S. Surgeon Common Vivek H. Murthy, MD, on Friday mentioned getting boosters permitted for everybody, together with those that initially received the Moderna or J&J vaccine, is a “excessive, excessive precedence.”
William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive drugs and infectious illnesses at Vanderbilt College, agrees it ought to occur quickly.
“I might hope that throughout the subsequent month to six weeks, we are going to get details about each of these vaccines,” he says. “Will probably be one proper after the opposite. Each handled individually.”
“I do know it results in a certain quantity of confusion, however that’s the way in which it’s a must to do it as a result of all the information weren’t assembled at precisely the identical time.”
Simply the truth that Pfizer boosters at the moment are accessible to sure high-risk teams is an enormous signal that boosters for different COVID-19 vaccines aren’t far behind, says Eric Ascher, DO, a household drugs doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York Metropolis.
“To me, that could be a sturdy indicator that they are going to be made accessible to the remainder of the inhabitants quickly,” he says.
The place do I am going get my Pfizer booster and the way a lot will it price?
You may get your booster shot at pharmacies, your physician’s workplace, well being departments, occupational clinics, and federal packages, according to the CDC.
“Over 70% of present COVID-19 administration” happens in pharmacies, the CDC states.
Boosters for all COVID-19 vaccines are fully free.
“All COVID-19 vaccines, together with booster doses, will probably be offered freed from cost to the U.S. inhabitants,” the CDC said Thursday.
Do I want to indicate proof of getting acquired the Pfizer vaccine earlier than getting a Pfizer booster?
The brief reply might be not. However on your security, it’s vital to observe FDA pointers and solely get a Pfizer booster in the event you acquired the Pfizer vaccine, Schaffner says.
“That has already opened the door to individuals who haven’t been vaccinated with Pfizer who’re very desirous to get a booster, to go forward and get a booster. That’s not really useful,” he says.
“We at all times warning people who, whereas that is unlikely, must you expertise an antagonistic occasion, in the event you’re doing it exterior the set advice, your insurance coverage received’t cowl it.”
Do we now have to indicate proof of being excessive danger because of an underlying medical situation or that we reside or work in a spot that places us at excessive danger for extreme COVID-19, or that we’re older than 65?
It’ll work on the distinction system, Schaffner says. “In different phrases, you present up and say you’re eligible, you received’t be quizzed about it, and the placement, whether or not it’s a pharmacy or vaccination website, gives you the booster.
“This is similar process we have already got in place for people who find themselves immunocompromised. All they should do is present up and say, ‘I’m in an immunocompromised group,’ they usually get the third dose.”
Are boosters a full dose or half dose of the Pfizer vaccine?
A Pfizer booster is one full dose of Pfizer vaccine, based on the FDA.
However this might not be the identical for different COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
“For instance, the FDA is contemplating whether or not to authorize a decrease dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster than the dose given within the first two photographs,” Gupta says.
However you shouldn’t be too hung up on the dose of your booster shot.
“That is based mostly on the make-up of the vaccine and doesn’t change the extent of safety,” Ascher says.
If I’m totally vaccinated however haven’t acquired a booster, am I nonetheless thought-about totally vaccinated?
“Primarily based on present information, the definition of ‘totally vaccinated’ would stay the identical after suggestions for booster dose,” the CDC says.
An individual is taken into account totally vaccinated 2 weeks after they full their preliminary vaccination sequence, like two doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
In the case of people who find themselves immunocompromised, it may be a bit extra sophisticated, says Gupta.
“For readability’s sake, in case you are immunocompromised, we’ll name your third shot a 3rd dose. Third doses for immunocompromised individuals are accessible now. For those who’re not immunocompromised, a 3rd shot is taken into account a booster.
“In accordance with the CDC, these with reasonably to severely compromised immune techniques are particularly weak to COVID-19 and will not construct the identical degree of immunity to two-dose vaccine sequence, in comparison with people who find themselves not immunocompromised. This extra dose intends to enhance immunocompromised folks’s response to their preliminary vaccine sequence.”
Is that this going to be an annual booster, like flu vaccines?
“We don’t know that but,” Schaffner says. “We’d anticipate that these boosters, as a result of they actually enhance and enhance your antibody ranges to a really excessive degree, would offer reasonably extended safety. How lengthy? Nicely, we’ll should see.
“Bear in mind, we’re studying about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations as we go alongside, so we are able to’t predict in the mean time whether or not this will probably be an annual booster, or each 2 years, or each 3 years. We’ll simply should see.”
Ought to I count on the identical uncomfortable side effects that I skilled once I acquired my preliminary doses of COVID-19 vaccine?
You could expertise related uncomfortable side effects, like arm soreness, gentle flu, physique aches, and different widespread signs, according to the CDC.
However it’s vital to do not forget that everybody reacts otherwise to vaccines, says Ascher.
“I’ve had sufferers (in addition to private expertise) the place there have been none to minimal signs, and others who felt they’d a gentle flu for twenty-four hours,” he says.
“I count on no uncomfortable side effects higher than what was felt along with your prior doses. The vaccine could be very protected, and the good thing about vaccination outweighs the dangers of any gentle uncomfortable side effects.”
For those who’d like extra info, you’ll be able to take a look at the CDC and U.S. Division of Health and Human Services web sites for updates on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. You may as well attain out to your physician or different well being care suppliers to be taught extra.