NEWS

All Adults Are Now Eligible for a COVID-19 Booster Shot

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Key Takeaways

  • All U.S. adults are now eligible for booster vaccines. While Johnson & Johnson boosters were already FDA-authorized for all adults, Pfizer and Moderna are now authorized, too.
  • Some states had already started offering booster shots for all residents 18 and older before the FDA authorization.
  • Expanding the eligibility criteria will eliminate confusion about who can receive a shot, an FDA official said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccines for everyone aged 18 and above. Shortly after the FDA authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed off on the same recommendation.

Now, any adult who received a second Pfizer or Moderna shot at least six months earlier will be eligible to get a booster by the weekend. Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients who are 18 years or older have been eligible for a booster two months after their single-dose shot since late October.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) unanimously voted to extend eligibility to all adults 18 and up, but emphasized that adults aged 50 and older, specifically, should really consider getting a booster.

Prior to the FDA authorization on Friday, some states like California, Colorado, and New Mexico had started offering boosters to all adults ahead of the holidays.

“Streamlining the eligibility criteria and making booster doses available to all individuals 18 years of age and older will also help to eliminate confusion about who may receive a booster dose and ensure booster doses are available to all who may need one," Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a press statement.

Before the extension of booster eligibility to all adults, around four in 10 people were confused about whether they qualified for a booster dose or not, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in October.

The initial mRNA vaccine booster rollout only included people who were 65 and older, adults with underlying medical conditions, and people with frequent occupational exposure to COVID-19.

More than 32 million Americans—about 16% of the fully vaccinated population—have already received a booster shot, according to the CDC.

Pfizer's clinical trial data, which has not been published or peer-reviewed, suggests that a third dose of its vaccine can restore efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 to 95%. The booster dose will remain the same as the initial doses at 30 micrograms.

Moderna's 50-microgram booster dose is half of the initial doses, which is enough to boost antibody levels in people who are already vaccinated, according to the company.

Since the FDA greenlit the "mix-and-match" approach, all recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been eligible for a booster dose from either Pfizer or Moderna at least two months after their initial shot. The latest FDA authorization made eligibility much less complicated for the public.

"As we head into the holiday and winter season, now is the time to think about protection for ourselves and our families. So many of us missed being with our friends and family last year," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said at a White House press briefing this week. "For those who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and who are eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose, go out now and get your extra booster dose to protect you."

People who are seeking for a booster shot can check with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens or look for available appointments on vaccines.gov.

What This Means For You

If you're 18 and older and received your second Pfizer or Moderna shot at least six months ago, or a Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago, you can make an appointment to get your booster shot now. Check with your local pharmacies or find an available appointment on vaccines.gov.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States. Updated November 19, 2021.