Who Will Be Eligible for COVID-19 Booster Shots and When?

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We’re now far into 2021, and almost 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with over 67% of people having received at least one dose, but the fight is far from over. COVID-19 case rates have indeed decreased, showing the vaccines to be effective, but there are still plenty of people catching and spreading the illness, so many people are considering getting a booster shot. But who can get a booster shot, and when? Here’s what you should know.  

Pfizer

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has overall been the most popular choice, with over 105 million Americans now fully vaccinated through Pfizer. The Pfizer vaccine was originally a two-dose mRNA vaccine and has proven to be very effective in clinical trials. As of now, the booster shot is only available to a few select groups, but you might qualify! 

Since the beginning, COVID-19 has posed a disproportionately large threat to the elderly population, so anyone aged 65 and up is now able to get a booster shot. In addition, anyone 18 and up who lives in a long-term care setting, has an underlying medical condition, or lives or works in a high-risk setting is also able to get the booster shot. The CDC recommends waiting at least six months after your second shot to get the booster shot.

Moderna

The Moderna vaccine has proved to be just as effective as the Pfizer shot, and as of November 2021, 70 million people have received it. It’s also a two-shot mRNA vaccine, meaning that the Moderna vaccine has the same requirements as the Pfizer one. The elderly and those in high-risk situations are being prioritized, but as time goes on, these guidelines may be expanded to make the booster shot available for the general public.

Johnson & Johnson / Janssen

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been somewhat controversial, with many people choosing to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead due to reports of medical issues such as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. These medical issues and cases of TTS are few and far between, but if you initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you may now be rethinking your choice. 

If so, you’re in luck. The CDC has recently stated that it is safe and effective for individuals to get a booster shot from a company other than the one who supplied your initial shot. If you previously received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you may want to look into getting the Pfizer or Moderna booster shot. The CDC recommends that anyone who initially got the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine receive a booster two months after their first shot.

If you haven’t received your initial vaccination yet, it’s not too late! You can set an appointment to get vaccinated through a government website or by contacting your local pharmacy or state health department. Your primary care doctor may also know of options, as might your friends. To defeat a global pandemic, we all have to be in this together.

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