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Who should be getting COVID booster shots now?

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:20 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The CDC’s list of people eligible to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster includes several different groups.

So, how do you know if you should be rolling up your sleeve for a third shot?

Doctors said two groups should be getting booster shots: anyone 65 and older, and those 50 and older who have underlying health conditions.

But there many others who may also need to get an additional shot soon.

If you are at least 65 years old, and it’s been six months since your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, doctors said it’s time for you to get and additional dose of the vaccine.

“Regardless of any other medical conditions that they might have, they should get that vaccine. The other group is going to be people ages 50 to 64 who have underlying health conditions and there’s a long list of those that can range from heart disease to lung disease, to conditions that weaken your immune system, Downs Syndrome, liver disease, I mean the list goes on and on,” said Medical Director of Disease Control for the Jefferson County Department of Health, Dr. Wesley Willeford.

Infectious disease experts said the first two doses of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine still provide good protection against severe disease and hospitalization in those 50 and older, but there’s not as much protection against infection.

“We’re talking about the vaccine efficacy that was initially 95% dropping below that some,” said Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease at UAB, Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom.

“So, what the CDC and ACIP has come out with a recommendation for is to say everybody in the U.S. who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine for whom it’s been at least six months since their second dose, so look at when your last dose was, you are eligible and should receive a booster with the same Pfizer MRNA vaccine,” Dr. Dionne said.

But what if you’re under the age of 50 and have underlying health conditions?

In that case, doctors said you may want to get the additional dose.

“So, if you’re 35 and a diabetic, if you’re 35 and you have hypertension or you have severe asthma, it’s not the ‘should’ recommendation; it’s the ‘may.’ If you are a teacher and you know that you’re being potentially exposed to COVID-19 in school, you are eligible and may receive the booster. The should and may is a little bit confusing for people. The ‘should’ is stronger, and that’s because the data is more clear for the reduction in the antibody in the older people,” Dr. Dionne explained.

Doctors said if you’re still confused about whether you should be getting the additional shot, it’s wise to consult your primary care doctor.

But keep in mind, these recommendations are strictly for those who’ve received the Pfizer vaccine.

Experts anticipate more information about the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be coming out soon.

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