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CDC recommends Pfizer COVID booster

Anyone above 18 years old with chronic illness could be eligible

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People who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine could be eligible for a booster shot. The CDC is currently recommending booster shots for people who received their second dose at least six months ago and have certain health conditions.

Jennifer Sexton, public health nursing manager for the Howard County Health Department, said the county is following the CDC’s recommendations on booster shots, and there is a lot of information to share.

The CDC recommends a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine only for those who have had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine previously. There is no information about the effectiveness of mixing and matching the vaccines, so researchers are uncertain how well people would be protected.

Other qualifying factors to get a booster dose include anyone over 65 years old, people 18 or older who are in long-term care, and anyone between 18 and 64 years old who has conditions like cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung diseases like COPD or asthma, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, dementia or other neurological diseases, Type 1 or 2 diabetes, heart diseases, HIV, sickle cell disease, or liver disease.

Sexton said anyone in the 18 to 64 year age range who is obese, overweight, pregnant, a current or previous smoker, uses substances, has had a stroke, or is immunocompromised is also eligible to receive a booster shot.

Another group eligible for booster vaccinations are people who live or work in places where they are at increased risk of transmission. This includes people who work in COVID testing centers or hospitals and people living in prisons, homeless shelters, and domestic violence shelters.

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“That pretty much covers everyone,” Sexton said. “I think we have enough people disinterested in the vaccine that supply won’t be a problem.”

Sexton said it is also important to distinguish the difference between additional doses of the vaccine and booster shots. While they are all the exact same vaccine and dosage, Sexton said many people undergoing cancer treatment get additional doses because their bodies do not respond to vaccines as well. The main difference is timing and purpose.

George Mast, communications manager at Community Howard Regional Health, said Howard Community is not currently operating a vaccine clinic at the hospital but is continuing to monitor access to the vaccines in the county and listen to CDC guidance.

“Community Health Network has advised its employees of the recent guidance from the CDC regarding the Pfizer booster shot. The Indiana Department of Health also supports this CDC guidance. Under the guidance from the CDC, health care workers may receive the booster shot,” Mast said. “While Community has advised employees of this guidance, it is not requiring employees to receive a booster.”

Sexton said she suspects authorization for a Moderna booster vaccine is not far behind, and she hopes people who are eligible will receive the booster shots. She recommends that anyone interested in scheduling a booster or learning more visit ourshot.in.gov.

“We’d really like to see people who are eligible get these done,” Sexton said.