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10/22/2021

CDC expands eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots

There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines, and eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation for a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccines in certain populations.

The Food and Drug Administration’s and CDC’s recommendation for use are important steps forward as we work to stay ahead of the virus and keep Americans safe,” the CDC said.

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

  • Individuals age 65 years old and older;
  • Individuals age 18 years old and older who live in long-term care settings;
  • Individuals age 18 years old and older who have underlying medical conditions; and 
  • Individuals age 18 years old and older who work or live in high-risk settings.

For the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are age 18 years old and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

[Read more: Retailers begin offering Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots]

"There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others, may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots," the CDC stated. "Millions of people are newly eligible to receive a booster shot and will benefit from additional protection. However, today’s action should not distract from the critical work of ensuring that unvaccinated people take the first step and get an initial COVID-19 vaccine. More than 65 million Americans remain unvaccinated, leaving themselves — and their children, families, loved ones, and communities — vulnerable."

The CDC noted in its announcement that available data right now show that all three of the COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. "Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus and help prevent new variants from emerging," said the CDC.

[Read more: White House details COVID-19 vaccine plan for children ages 5 to 11 years old]

Walensky said, “These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19. The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe – as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant.”

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