In September 2021, the Director of the CDC recommended a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in certain populations. This includes older adults and those in high-risk jobs and settings. This is an important step forward as the United States tries to stay ahead of the pandemic by keeping older Americans and other high-risk groups safe.

The current recommendation

According to the recommendation, those over 65 years and residents in long-term care settings should get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine at least six months after their first COVID vaccine.

Those aged 50–64 years with medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc., must receive a vaccine booster shot at least six months after their primary Pfizer-BioNTech series.

According to the recommendation, those aged 18–49 years with underlying conditions should get a booster shot at least six months after their second COVID vaccine, taking into account their individual benefits and risks.

Those aged 18-64 years and at risk of coronavirus exposure and transmission because of professional or institutional constraints may receive a booster shot after a minimum gap of 6 months post their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series. However, each individual’s risk will have to be assessed. 

Am I immunocompromised? Should I take it?

In August, the FDA recommended and CDC authorized the use of an additional dose or booster of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna for those with certain conditions that compromise their immune systems. This booster is needed because these people don’t get enough protection against COVID-19 from the two doses of the vaccines.

However, the FDA stated that even after a third dose, those who are immunocompromised will still need to wear masks, practice social distancing, and avoid crowds. The CDC recommended that family members and other close contacts of such individuals be fully vaccinated to protect these persons.

The FDA’s authorization doesn’t apply to the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has been used less frequently. The FDA is still contemplating updating its authorization of Johnson & Johnson to determine if boosters will be necessary for immunocompromised individuals.

What are the booster requirements?

At present, an honor-type system will be implemented for those who are eligible for booster. If you qualify according to the requirements, you should carry your vaccination record card for your vaccine appointment at a pharmacy, clinic, or any other vaccination site. No medical documentation, including a prescription, will be necessary to get the third shot of either vaccine.