Millions of Americans can now get a second COVID-19 booster shot, but who is specifically eligible?
If you are not yet eligible, when can you get your second booster?
Here’s a breakdown of eligibility, why health officials say another vaccine is needed for some, and when others can get one:
Who is eligible for a second COVID booster?
Americans 50 and older can get a second COVID-19 booster if it’s been at least four months since their last vaccination.
The Food and Drug Administration last week authorized an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for this age group and for some younger people with severely weakened immune systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention later recommended the additional injection as an option, but did not urge eligible people to rush in and get it immediately. This decision extends the additional recall to millions more Americans.
For the more than 4 million people who received Moderna or Pfizer as a second injection, the CDC says an additional booster is only needed if they meet the most recent criteria – a severely weakened immune system or are 50 years old. or more.
Until now, the FDA has only authorized a fourth dose of the vaccine for immunocompromised people as young as 12 years old. Only the Pfizer vaccine can be used in people from the age of 12; Moderna is for adults.
What about those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
People who have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. were eligible for a recall of any type. Of the 1.3 million who received a second injection of J&J, the CDC said they could now choose a third dose, either Moderna or Pfizer.
Indeed, a CDC study that tracked the boosters that J&J recipients initially chose concluded that a second shot of Moderna or Pfizer was superior to a second dose of J&J.
And the rest of the population?
The federal government should assess whether to recommend a fourth dose of the vaccine for all Americans, and may choose to issue those recommendations in the fall when more Americans are indoors as the weather gets colder. .
This week the government will hold a public meeting to discuss whether everyone eventually needs a fourth dose, possibly in the fall, of the original vaccine or an updated vaccine.
Even if high-risk Americans are boosted now, Marks said they might need another dose in the fall if regulators decide to change the vaccine.
For this effort, human studies – targeted omicron injections alone or in combination with the original vaccine – are underway. The National Institutes of Health recently tested monkeys and found “no significant benefit” to using a booster that targets only omicron.
Why do people need a second reminder?
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said it’s especially important for older Americans — those 65 and older — and 50s with chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes to consider a another vaccine.
“They’re most likely to benefit from an extra booster dose right now,” Walensky said.
There is evidence that protection may decline especially in high-risk groups, and for them another booster “will help save lives,” said FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks.
The move to extra boosters comes at a time of great uncertainty, with limited evidence to say what benefit an extra dose might offer at this time. COVID-19 cases have fallen to low levels in the United States, but all vaccines are less potent against new mutants than earlier versions of the virus – and health officials are cautiously watching an omicron brother who causes worrying jumps in infections in other countries.
During the U.S. wave of omicron, two doses were nearly 80% effective against needing a ventilator or dying — and a booster boosted that protection to 94%, the CDC recently reported. Vaccine effectiveness was lowest – 74% – in immunocompromised people, the vast majority of whom had not received a third dose.
To assess an additional booster, US officials turned to Israel, which opened a fourth dose to people 60 and older during the omicron push. The FDA said no new safety issues emerged in a review of 700,000 fourth doses administered.
Preliminary data published online last week suggests some benefits: Israeli researchers counted 92 deaths among more than 328,000 people who received the supplemental vaccine, compared with 232 deaths among 234,000 people who skipped the fourth dose.
What’s far from clear is how long any additional benefit from another booster would last, and therefore when to get it.
“The ‘when’ is a really difficult part. Ideally, we would time booster doses just before surges, but we don’t always know when that will happen,” said Dr. William Moss, vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
What are the side effects of a second booster dose?
Dr. Pamela Vergara-Rodriguez of Cook County Health said side effects are unlikely to differ from the initial doses and the initial booster dose.
“We expect that the unwanted side effects that we are all aware of and that can occur after receiving a vaccine may continue to occur,” she said.
This includes things like fatigue, feeling unwell, fever or pain at the site of infection, she said.
The CDC said the side effects of the booster shots “were similar to those of the two-dose series.”
The most common symptoms include fatigue and pain at the injection site, but “most symptoms were mild to moderate”.
As with previous doses of the vaccine, the CDC notes that “serious side effects are rare, but can occur.”
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