INDIANAPOLIS — The CDC is endorsing booster shots for millions of Americans, especially older and more vulnerable adults six months after they are fully vaccinated.
The extra dose is available to those 65 and older and those in long-term care facilities who initially received the Pfizer vaccine.
It's also recommended to people 50 to 64 with underlying health problems.
Friday morning, the CDC director also endorsed boosters for frontline workers at high risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission.
The back-and-forth messaging has left some people confused on whether they need to get an extra dose or not.
“It’s the individual’s responsibility to essentially attest that they have one of those conditions when they come and get the COVID vaccine. It’s almost impossible to police,” said Dr. Cole Beeler, an Infectious Disease Physician at IU Health and director of Infection Prevention at Indiana University Hospital.
Dr. Beeler said currently there are more studies proving the boosters are needed for those 60 and older compared to younger Americans.
“I think there is just a lot less data that that third booster is actually necessary for them,” he said.
The state department of health announced Friday it will follow the CDC’s guidance, but Dr. Beeler doesn’t want everyone to think they need an extra dose.
“My concern for overdoing vaccinations is that it might be sending the wrong message saying that a third booster is absolutely necessary to keep you safe,” he said. “When with an otherwise healthy 16 to 60-year-old, we know that the vaccine is still very highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death.”
Dr. Beeler said it’s important to make sure vaccines are available in other countries that don’t have the same access.
“I agree with the WHO that we should probably be trying to get the vaccine in the hands of these low- and middle-income countries as possible to avoid the next variant so we aren’t having to do this all over again,” he said.
Based on the recommendations, those in long-term care facilities are the best candidates for the booster shot but keep in mind it’s only for those that received the Pfizer vaccine.
“A lot of the original resident population was given Moderna, so those waiting for the Moderna booster will have to wait a little longer,” said Zach Cattell, the president of Indiana Health Care Association.
Cattell said he welcomes the extra dose for residents and workers but wants to encourage more people to get their first dose. Only about 58 percent of Indiana’s long-term care workers are fully vaccinated.
“The proof is right there. It’s right in front of our very eyes about how effective and beneficial the vaccine is,” Cattell said.
Keep in mind, the booster is different than the “third dose” available to those that are immunocompromised. In that case, it doesn’t matter if it’s a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. To know which shot is best for you, it’s important to talk to your doctor.
Requirements for booster shot from ISHD:
- Individuals ages 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities should receive a booster dose.
- Individuals ages 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk of severe COVID-19 should receive a booster dose.
- Individuals ages 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster dose, based on their individual benefits and risks.
- Individuals ages 18 to 64 who are at high risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of an occupational or institutional risk of exposure may receive a booster shot based on their individual benefits and risks.
Eligible Hoosiers can sign up at www.ourshot.in.gov. Make sure you pick a clinic that offers Pfizer. You can call 211 for assistance. Bring your vaccine card to your appointment to ensure the booster dose is added.
Before your appointment, you will be asked to attest that you meet the requirements. Starting Monday, the attestation will be added to the online appointment registration.