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NEW! COVID Booster for Eligible Groups

Last updated: October 18, 2021

IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE PFIZER BOOSTER,
YOU CAN MAKE AN APPOINTMENT HERE

According to the CDC, the following groups should get a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine at least six months after the second dose: 

And the following groups may get a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine at least six months after the second dose if the personal benefits for them outweigh the personal risks:

These recommendations are ONLY for those who received the original two-dose series of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. It does not cover those who received a COVID vaccine by Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What is a Booster Shot?

For some viruses, the protection we get from a vaccine starts to wear off over time. An additional dose of the vaccine may be needed to boost your immune response and make sure you are protected from the virus. Boosters are common for many vaccines, like the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis).

Have Booster Shots for COVID-19 Vaccine been approved?

Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended certain populations receive a booster shot of Pfizer vaccine at least six months after the completion of their Pfizer primary series.  

In addition, the CDC Director recommended a booster dose for those in high-risk occupational and institutional settings.

How is the Booster Shot recommendation different from the 3rd Dose recommendation for the immunocompromised?

The booster shot has only been approved for PFIZER-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and must be administered at least six months after the completion of the primary Pfizer vaccine series.  The booster shot must be from the same manufacturer as the first two doses and has only been recommended for specific eligible groups.

The 3rd dose for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised has been approved for PFIZER-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine AND Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and must be administered no earlier than 28 days after a second dose.  The third dose must be from the same manufacturer as the first two doses.

Please talk with your medical provider if you have any questions about your eligibility and to see if a booster dose is right for you.

What groups are eligible for the Booster Shot?

The CDC recommends that the following groups should get a Booster Shot:

The CDC recommends that the following groups may get a Booster Shot:

  • People 18 to 49 who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to certain underlying medical conditions based on their individual benefits and risks.
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting based on their individual benefits and risks.

Please talk with your medical provider if you have any questions about your eligibility.

What medical conditions make me eligible for a Booster Shot? 

Per the CDC, people with certain underlying medical conditions are eligible for a Booster Shot.  Eligible groups include individuals who have been diagnosed with:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), 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
  • Pregnancy
  • 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

Please talk with your medical provider if you have any questions about your eligibility.

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 risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 constantly evolves. 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.

How was the decision to approve Booster Shots made? 

The CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully examined the latest data. Data was gathered from a small clinical trial that showed a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine increased immune response in those who completed a primary series six months ago. Additionally, data showed that while vaccines remained effective among adults 65 years and older, recent evidence suggests they are less effective in preventing infection or milder symptomatic illness due to waning over time and the Delta variant. Emerging evidence also shows that among health care and other frontline essential workers, vaccine effectiveness is waning.

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. A booster shot will help provide continued protection against severe disease in the populations who are especially at risk.

What about people who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine?  What should they do?  

The ACIP and CDC’s recommendations are bound by what the FDA authorization allows. At this time, the Pfizer booster authorization only applies to people whose primary series was Pfizer vaccine. People in the recommended groups who got the Moderna or J&J/Janssen vaccine may need a booster shot and more data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots are expected in the coming weeks. With those data in hand, CDC will keep the public informed with a timely plan for Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots.

What are the risks to getting a Booster Shot?

For many who have completed their primary series with Pfizer vaccine, the benefits of getting a booster shot outweigh the known and potential risks. So far, reactions reported after the third Pfizer shot 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. However, as with the two shot primary series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

Does this change the definition of “fully vaccinated” for those eligible for Booster Shots? 

People are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two shot series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine. This definition applies to all people, including those who receive an additional dose as recommended for moderate to severely immunocompromised people and those who receive a booster shot.

Can you explain the recommendations related to people 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions, and people 18 to 64 who may be exposed due to occupational/institutional setting? How are these different from the other two recommendations? 

The CDC’s recommendation is not as strong for these populations, but still allows a Booster Shot to be available for those who would like to get one. People 18 and older who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions or their occupation should consider their individual risks and benefits when making the decision of whether to get a Booster Shot. This recommendation may change in the future as more data becomes available.

Will people need to show a doctor’s note/prescription or other documentation? 

Individuals don’t need a note or prescription to get a booster shot. You just need to self-attest and receive a shot wherever vaccines are offered. This will help ensure there are not additional barriers to access for these select populations receiving their booster shot.

Can I go anywhere for my Booster Shot? 

You can go to any provider that has Pfizer vaccine as long as it has been six months after the initial series of Pfizer vaccine AND as long as the facility has the correct vaccine. You do not need to go back to the place where you received your first two doses of the series. To find a vaccination provider near you, please visit, https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine. For a list of Anne Arundel County Department of Health third dose booster clinics, please visit, https://aacounty.org/covidvax/third-dose/index.html.

Am I still able to get a first dose or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine? 

Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to be our priority. The Anne Arundel County Department of Health, pharmacies and doctor’s offices still have many opportunities for you to get vaccinated. Please visit, https://www.aacounty.org/covidvax or https://www.aahealth.org/vaccine-locations to schedule your first or second dose today!

Can I get my COVID-19 vaccine and my flu shot at the same time? 

Yes! Currently the CDC and ACIP recommend that if a person is eligible, both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, without regard to timing. If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, you should speak with a health care provider.

General Prevention Recommendations for COVID-19

The CDC recommends the following preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.

  • Everyone regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask indoors in public to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others. These recommendations are based on the county’s case rate which determines the Level of Community Transmission as defined by the CDC. Face masks are required in some health care facilities and on public transportation.  Wearing a mask is the best way to slow the spread when around others outside your household. The two biggest risks are social gatherings and public dining, which bring people together who are not usually together. Keep your bubble of contacts as small as possible and do not let your guard down.
  • Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet at all times.
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Practice proper respiratory etiquette, including coughing and sneezing into the back of your elbow or into a tissue. Immediately throw away the tissue and wash your hands.

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