COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for millions across the U.S., but what qualifies you to receive the third dose?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed extra doses of all three of the nation’s vaccines last month, causing health departments across the Chicago area to create plans to put additional shots in arms.
For those eligible, patients should receive a booster dose of the COVID vaccine at least six months after their first series of shots, health officials noted.
Here’s a complete breakdown of who is eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID vaccine booster shot, according to the CDC:
- People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot
- People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster dose
- People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot based on their individual benefits and risks
- People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a third vaccine dose
What counts as a qualifying underlying health condition? Here’s a list from the CDC:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases, including COPD, asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
- HIV infection
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
- Liver disease
- Overweight and obesity
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Smoking, current or former
- Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
- Substance use disorders
In addition to the Pfizer authorization, officials have also cleared booster doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for people with weakened immune systems.
According to the CDC, immunocompromised groups include people who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
The agency notes that “people should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them.”
In addition to previously-announced Pfizer vaccine booster shot eligibility, here’s a look at who else can get the booster shots:
- Moderna COVID-19 Booster Eligibility: Eligibility requirements for Moderna and Pfizer-BioTech booster doses are the same. Individuals must wait at least six months after they complete their initial mRNA COVID-19 primary vaccine series to receive their booster dose. Eligible individuals include:
- Individuals aged 65 and older.
- Long-term care facility residents ages 18 and older.
- Individuals aged 18 and older with underlying medical conditions. Individuals ages 18 – 49 should consider individual benefits and risks, according to CDC guidance.
- Individuals ages 18-64 who are at an increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting, such as healthcare and essential workers, based on their individual benefits and risks.
- J&J COVID-19 Booster Eligibility: A single vaccine booster dose is recommended for individuals 18 and older who received a J&J primary dose at least 2 months after they receive their initial J&J primary vaccine dose.
- Mix & Match Guidance: In general, it is recommended individuals receive the same product for their booster dose as they did for their primary series.
- However, if the original product is not available or another product is preferred, mix and matching vaccines with any of the authorized COVID-19 vaccine boosters is allowed.
- The primary series of two-dose vaccines should still be completed with the same product for both doses.