The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for older and high-risk Americans Wednesday. Booster shots for adults over 65, health care workers, teachers, daycare staff, grocery workers, and people in homeless shelters or prisons are included in the eligible populations. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended a third Pfizer dose for nursing home residents and people 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions six months following their second dose.
According to the Washington Post, the CDC panel has at present only reviewed data concerning the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but it is expected that recommendations concerning the Modern and the Johnson and Johnson vaccines will follow shortly. For those who are eligible, the third Pfizer dose, six months after completing the first two doses should be available at pharmacies, health departments, clinics, and some doctor’s offices.
A booster shot for the general public is not yet recommended, especially as concerns with vaccinating the unvaccinated persist. Hospitalizations among unvaccinated people are currently at a rate of 10 to 22 times as high as those who are fully vaccinated. However, in crowded settings, the Data variant has contributed to an increased risk of breakthrough infections, according to a CDC investigation of a recent federal prison outbreak in Texas.
In the UK, mix-and-match COVID vaccination studies have found that early results show the benefits of combining different vaccines to produce a strong immune response. However, research also suggests that mix-and-match groups of vaccinated people experienced higher rates of side effects such as fever than people who received two doses of the same vaccine.
Stay informed on plans for booster shots by checking with your local health unit and if you have an underlying medical condition, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of a third dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine. Stay tuned as we learn more about booster shots and mix-and-match doses.