UPDATE (11/19/21): On Nov. 19, the FDA authorized COVID-19 booster shots for all individuals 18 and older. The story below appears as originally published.
On Aug. 13, the FDA authorized an additional COVID-19 dose for immunocompromised people who received either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines in an effort to help boost their immune responses to the COVID-19 virus as the highly transmissible delta variant spreads across the United States.
Health officials told VERIFY that additional dose is not considered a “booster shot,” because booster shots are meant for people with healthy immune systems. Now, many people who are fully vaccinated and not immunocompromised are wondering when they will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.
If you are fully vaccinated and not immunocompromised are you currently eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot?
- Joint Statement from HHS Public Health and Medical Experts on COVID-19 Booster Shots
- Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General
- Dr. WIlliam Schaffner, Professor, Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
No, if you are fully vaccinated and not immunocompromised you are not currently eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot, but health officials say some people could be eligible soon.
WHAT WE FOUND
On Aug. 18, U.S. health officials and medical experts from the CDC, NIH, FDA, and the White House recommended in a joint statement that all fully vaccinated Americans should eventually get a COVID-19 booster shot because there is evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines’ efficacy wanes over time. They say getting a booster shot would increase fully vaccinated peoples’ protection against the surging delta variant.
“Even though this new data affirms that vaccine protection remains high against the worst outcomes of COVID, we are concerned that this pattern of decline we are seeing will continue in the months ahead,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy during a press conference at the White House.
In the joint statement, health officials said they have developed a plan to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in the fall after the FDA conducts an independent evaluation and determines the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. Once that evaluation is completed, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will begin issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence.
“We are prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose. At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster,” health officials said.
Dr. William Schaffner told VERIFY that Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recipients will also most likely need a booster shot eventually, but right now, there just isn’t enough data available to make that recommendation. U.S. health officials also confirmed this in their joint statement Wednesday.
“We also anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well,” health officials said.
While the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are currently under evaluation, health officials continue to urge unvaccinated Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Nearly all the cases of severe disease, hospitalization, and death continue to occur among those not yet vaccinated at all. We will continue to ramp up efforts to increase vaccinations here at home and to ensure people have accurate information about vaccines from trusted sources,” health officials said.