As of late September, booster doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) are officially recommended for some people. This will allow millions of Americans who are at highest risk for COVID-19 to increase their protection. With the rise of the Delta variant, COVID-19 infections have increased significantly in Alabama and other states. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there was a total 388,359 cases reported in 2020. As of this September, nearly 410,000 cases have been reported and this number is likely to increase.
A booster shot will help strengthen protection against severe disease for people who are at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19 or the complications from an infection. The planned federal rollout of booster shots will address this population first and here’s what you need to know to determine if you are eligible.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP), COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series of shots at least 6 months ago and are:
- People 65 years and older
- Residents 18 and older who live in long-term care settings
- People 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions.
- People 18 and older who work in high-risk settings
- People 18 and older who live in high-risk settings
Nursing home residents and staff
Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults aged 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe infections, recent data suggest vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms. Many nursing home residents are older and have underlying medical conditions that increase their risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Thus, it’s important that nursing home residents have booster shots. New evidence also shows that among healthcare and other frontline workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is decreasing over time. This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of decreasing protection as time passes since getting vaccinated as well as the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant. According to the CDC, “People aged 18–64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may get a booster shot after considering their individual risks and benefits.”
Adults age 18 and older with underlying medical conditions are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Severe illness can be life-threatening and require hospitalization. After speaking with their healthcare provider and considering their individual risks and benefits, it’s recommended that people in this population get a booster shot. The CDC has listed some common medical conditions that could increase the likelihood of severe illness. Rare medical conditions may not be included below. However, a person with a condition that is not listed may still be in more danger from COVID-19 and should talk with their healthcare provider.
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
- HIV infection
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
- Liver disease
- Overweight and obesity
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Smoking, current or former
- Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
- Substance use disorders, such as alcohol or drug abuse
Protect yourself and others
With the rise of infection cases in Alabama and across the nation, it is vital to use all available resources to protect public health. If you are unvaccinated, we encourage you to consider vaccination and learn more about the available COVID-19 vaccines from credible, evidence-based sources. If you are vaccinated, please consult your healthcare provider about your need for a booster shot.