5 things to know about coronavirus booster shots

5 things to know about coronavirus booster shots

Posted: Sep 25, 2021 5:31 PM
Updated: Sep 25, 2021 5:31 PM

Booster shots are here, after much hoopla from the White House and a great deal of discussion and consideration from the teams of doctors and other experts who advise the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 2 million people have already received third doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, but these technically were not booster shots -- they were extra doses given to people whose immune systems are compromised and may not have responded fully to the first two doses of vaccines.

But now the CDC and FDA have agreed many Americans need boosters and should start getting them. Here are some important things to know about them:

Who is eligible?

Many adults will be eligible for boosters if they have already received two doses of Pfizer's vaccine.

"Starting today, if you are six months out from your last dose of the Pfizer vaccine, you are eligible for a booster if you fall into one of three high risk groups," US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told a White House Covid-19 briefing Friday.

"Number one: You are 65 or older. Number two: You have a medical condition that puts you at high risk of severe illness with Covid and these conditions include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and others. And Number three: You work or live in a setting where you are at high risk of exposure to Covid. This includes health care workers, teachers, those living in shelters or prisons and grocery store workers."

The federal government website at vaccines.gov has links to pages outlining who is eligible for a booster shot and has lists of locations where shots are available.

The CDC's Dr. Kathleen Dooling told the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices earlier this week there is a wide variety of people who might be included in the high risk groups. "Fully vaccinated persons with underlying medical conditions may be at risk of severe COVID-19 if they become infected with SARS-CoV-2," she said. They include cancer, stroke, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity, pregnancy and smoking.

White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said up to 20 million Americans fall into these categories as of now.

When and where can people get one?

People have already started getting booster shots.

Zients said there is plenty of supply, and people should be able to get boosters at pharmacies, doctors' offices and sometimes at mass vaccination sites.

"Boosters will be free for everyone, regardless of immigration or health insurance status. No ID or insurance required," he said Friday.

"And we've worked closely with partners including governors, pharmacies, doctors, long term care facilities and other providers so that eligible Americans are able to get a booster shot at roughly 80,000 places across the country, including over 40,000 local pharmacies," Zients added.

"CDC contacted tens of thousands of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other high-risk settings to ensure that they are ready," he said.

"Colorado has nine mobile vaccination clinics ready to go to get boosters to where people are. And we'll double that number to 18 over the coming weeks."

He said Colorado, New York, Ohio and other states were readying large vaccination centers if there is demand.

What about everyone else—including people who got Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines?

The FDA and CDC will continue to consider widening the recommendations for who should and could get booster shots. Moderna has asked the FDA to consider booster doses for people who got its vaccine. Johnson & Johnson has yet to apply.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said her agency acted quickly on FDA recommendations for Pfizer vaccine recipients.

"We will, with similar urgency, evaluate the available data in the coming weeks to swiftly make additional recommendations for other populations at risk, and people who received the Moderna and J&J vaccines," she told Friday's briefing.

Murthy made a similar promise.

"I want to speak directly to those who received Moderna and J&J," Murthy told the briefing.

"Your health matters just as much as other vaccine recipients, and we want to make sure that your protection against Covid is strong and reliable as well. That's why the FDA is working with Moderna and J&J to get and process their data as quickly as possible with the goal of making booster recommendations for Moderna and J&J recipients in the coming weeks. This is a high, high priority."

Why do people need them?

The protection provided by Covid-19 vaccines appears to wane over time, especially for people 65 and older, the CDC's Ruth Link-Gelles, who helps lead the CDC's Vaccine Effectiveness Team, said Friday.

She reviewed a series of studies looking at the overall effectiveness of vaccines in various groups between February and August and found similar patterns for Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines, both made using mRNA. Effectiveness started to wane a few months after people were fully vaccinated -- defined as two weeks after their second dose of either vaccine.

"For individuals 65 plus, we saw significant declines in VE (vaccine effectiveness) against infection during Delta for the mRNA products," Link-Gelles told CDC vaccine advisers this past week.

"We also saw declines, particularly for Pfizer, for 65 up, that we're not seeing in younger populations. Finally there's evidence of waning VE against hospitalization in the Delta period," she said.

In a study of 4,000 healthcare personnel, first responders, and other frontline workers in eight places who were tested every week regardless of symptoms, vaccine protection against any infection declined from 91% pre-Delta to 66% during Delta.

A study called IVY looked at hospitalized adults in 18 states between March and August. Efficacy of Pfizer's vaccine waned from 91%, 14 to 120 days after full vaccination, to 77% three months or more after full vaccination. Moderna's vaccine effectiveness did not really wane, staying at 92% or 93% in that study.

Pfizer says its studies show booster doses bring people's immunity back up to what it was right after they got their second shots, or to even higher levels.

Do I need a doctor's note?

No. People are being asked to "self-attest" as to their eligibility for a booster vaccine.

But people should not cheat-- especially when it comes to waiting six months or so before getting a booster, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

That's because a longer time period between prime -- the first doses of vaccine -- and boost helps the immune system mature. The longer one waits, the better the immune response.

"If you allow the immune response to mature over a period of a few months, you get much more of a bang out of the shot, as it were -- an enhancement of your antibodies," he said.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

West Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 72°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 72°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 68°
Fowler
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 72°
Williamsport
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 71°
Crawfordsville
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 68°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 70°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 69°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 69°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 72°
Few Showers & T'Showers Then Cooler...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1001697

Reported Deaths: 16370
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1349142114
Lake660941157
Allen57517796
Hamilton46157464
St. Joseph44155608
Elkhart35752508
Vanderburgh32119478
Tippecanoe27824258
Johnson24961444
Hendricks23767355
Porter22833364
Madison18662406
Clark18449252
Vigo17379302
Monroe15205198
LaPorte15077250
Delaware15006260
Howard14647288
Kosciusko12235147
Hancock11639175
Bartholomew11517179
Warrick11264189
Floyd11040214
Wayne10918252
Grant10000218
Morgan9427176
Boone8874116
Dubois8240131
Dearborn818193
Henry8154152
Noble7985106
Marshall7854134
Cass7510120
Lawrence7414170
Shelby7160117
Jackson694688
Gibson6534113
Harrison645891
Huntington635399
Knox6299106
DeKalb627699
Montgomery6214109
Miami590598
Putnam576278
Clinton571371
Whitley561555
Steuben557075
Wabash5289103
Jasper526677
Jefferson507596
Ripley496886
Adams476875
Daviess4632113
Scott436672
Greene422496
Wells421788
Clay420660
White416964
Decatur4139101
Fayette404987
Jennings385260
Posey375343
LaGrange354978
Washington354049
Randolph342599
Spencer337642
Fountain332658
Sullivan327452
Starke314069
Owen312770
Fulton307767
Orange292063
Jay282245
Perry264752
Franklin264542
Carroll259832
Rush259532
Vermillion256454
Parke230026
Pike228143
Tipton227059
Blackford191141
Pulaski182056
Crawford158823
Newton156648
Benton150217
Brown145247
Martin137419
Switzerland134311
Warren120616
Union106916
Ohio84212
Unassigned0538

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events