Booster doses are common for many vaccines. Scientists and medical experts have been closely analyzing the data from the U.S. and around the world, data that is beginning to show that, absent a booster shot, protection against COVID-19 infection may decline over time after vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, including against the delta variant. On September 23, based on this data and the recommendation of experts and following FDA authorization of Pfizer boosters for some people, CDC recommended Pfizer booster shots for some groups of people who received this vaccine:
- Adults age 18-64 for people whose jobs put them at high risk for COVID-19, including healthcare workers, teachers, daycare staff, grocery workers, and other essential workers, along with people in shelters and prisons
- Older adults, age 65 and over and those living in long-term care facilities
- Adults ages 50-64 at high risk of severe COVID-19, due to underlying medical conditions such as cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and heart conditions, among others
- Adults ages 18-49 at high risk of severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions should consider a booster based on an assessment of their individual benefits and risks and consultation with their medical provider
The single booster should be administered at least six months after the second Pfizer dose of the primary two-dose series. The CDC did not recommend booster shots for other recipients of the Pfizer vaccine, nor for recipients of the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine was the first COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized in the U.S., so its data about booster doses were the first to be available. Similar analyses and recommendations will be made as the data for the other vaccines become available. Prior to the FDA’s decision and CDC’s recommendations on boosters, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began developing a plan to offer eligible people booster doses pending agency approval and CDC recommendations. HHS, state and local health departments, vaccine distributors, and providers are continuing to coordinate to administer booster doses to eligible people. If you have questions about your booster dose eligibility, or how, where, and when you can get a booster dose, visit your local health department or contact your health provider or pharmacist.