As of September 10th, 2021 over 378 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the United States with 208 million people getting at least one dose and 177 million Americans being fully vaccinated. These numbers may surprise a lot of people, as it was a challenge to book a vaccination appointment earlier this year. However, vaccines are now widely available, and in most cases, you can easily find an appointment. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently recommends that everyone aged 12 years and older, receive COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. The vaccine is available free of charge at local pharmacies and clinics. Let us know if you need help setting an appointment at a location near you.
But what if you are one of those 177 million Americans who are already fully vaccinated? You may be wondering if you should seek a COVID-19 booster shot, and what are the next steps? Angle Health has some answers to those questions we would like to share.
“COVID-19 booster shots” differ from a “third vaccine dose” based on the reason the vaccine is being given. COVID-19 booster shots are offered to people who are fully vaccinated and have built immunity against the virus, but whose immunity is likely to have waned over time. In contrast, third vaccine doses are recommended by the CDC for moderately to severely immunocompromised people who may not have built the same level of immunity to 2-dose vaccine series as did people who are not immunocompromised. As discussed in the next section, people who need a third vaccine dose should make the arrangements sooner than those who need a booster shot.
Currently, the CDC is recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals receive a third dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. If you believe you are a part of this group, which includes approximately 3% of the adult population, you should talk to your healthcare provider about when you should get an additional dose. If you are immunocompromised and received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, these recommendations do not apply. The FDA’s recent research showing that there may be an improved response after an additional dose of one of the mRNA vaccines is only applicable to the mRNA vaccines. According to the CDC, “there is not enough data at this time to determine whether immunocompromised people who received the J & J vaccine also have an improved antibody response following an additional dose of the same vaccine.”
The timing for getting a booster shot for those who are not in the group with severe immunocompromise is a little bit different. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to begin offering booster shots this Fall and the CDC
recommends people will be eligible eight months after they received their second dose of an mRNA vaccine (either Pfizer or Moderna). But this recommendation is still being evaluated by the federal Food and Drug Administration and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), so there is no approved recommendation to start the COVID-19 booster shots yet. The HHS also anticipates that people who received the J&J vaccine will likely need booster shots as well but again, there is no final recommendation yet As more data and approval information becomes available, the CDC and the HHS will update the public with a plan for the booster shot roll out.
When the CDC provides more guidance on the booster shots, we will again reach out with recommendations. And you can find up-to-date information and data on COVID-19 on the CDC’s COVID-19 resources page (the link to their COVID-19 homepage is: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html). If you do have any questions or concerns related to COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots, please feel free to reach out and our Care Team is more than happy to help.