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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Explained: Who can get Covid-19 booster shots in the US?

Out of the three vaccines that are being used against COVID-19 in the US, the ACIP booster shot recommendation is only meant for Pfizer’s vaccine.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: October 13, 2021 2:49:42 pm
In this file photo, nurse administers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to a patient in California (AP)

On Friday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices (ACIP) recommended a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in certain populations and also recommended a booster dose for those in high risk settings.

Out of the three vaccines that are being used against COVID-19 in the US, the ACIP booster shot recommendation is only meant for Pfizer’s vaccine. Significantly, CDC’s director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in what is being referred to as a rare move, overruled the advice of her expert committee and backed the decision to make booster shots available for more people in the US.

Which set of people could get Covid-19 booster shots already?

Earlier in August, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorised vaccine booster shots for transplant recipients and people with weakened immune systems to better protect them from variants of Covid-19. The authorisation came even as the WHO placed a moratorium on Covid-19 boosters in August due to the disparity in vaccination levels in low and high-income countries.

In September too, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasised that countries should refrain from administering booster shot campaigns at least till the end of the year. As per the latest figures from Our World in Data, only 2.2 percent of the people in low-income countries have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The FDA said those who had received either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines could take a third dose; there is no information on beneficiaries of the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine.

The FDA said that people with a weak immune system, including transplant patients and those with certain cancers or other disorders can get a third vaccine shot at least 28 days after getting their second dose. This recommendation is meant for the recipients of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

So, who can get a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the US now?

The current recommendations are broader than what the FDA said in August and is only meant for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The CDC in a press release has recommended the following when it comes to getting a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
  • People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
  • People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

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