Pfizer and BioNTech developed the first COVID-19 vaccine to get FDA approval. The FDA has authorized a booster shot for the recipients of the Pfizer vaccine, but not everyone is currently covered. Who is eligible for Pfizer's booster shot? Why do we need a booster shot for COVID-19? What is the recommended timing for getting the Pfizer booster shot?
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only one that's currently fully approved by the FDA. That allows Pfizer to market the vaccine directly to consumers, which can boost its sales and broaden vaccine uptake. Moderna has also sought full FDA approval for its vaccine. Johnson & Johnson is expected to ask the FDA to fully approve its vaccine as well.
To get complete protection against COVID-19, people need to get two shots of the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna vaccine also requires two shots, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single shot.
Why do we need a booster shot for COVID-19?
For those who received the Pfizer vaccine, the FDA has authorized a third dose or booster shot for certain groups of people. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have also sought authorization of an extra shot of their vaccines.
Studies have shown that vaccine protection might weaken over time. The Pfizer vaccine can offer more than 96 percent protection against COVID-19. However, its effectiveness can drop below 50 percent after six months. Therefore, an extra dose might be needed to extend the protection, especially against the more contagious Delta variant.
Who is eligible for the Pfizer booster shot?
Only people who received the Pfizer vaccine can get the booster shot. The extra shot is recommended for seniors aged 65 and above. People aged at least 18 years who are at high risk of infection or severe disease are also eligible for the booster shot. These people have underlying medical conditions, are residents of long-term care settings, and are people working or living in environments with a high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Therefore, the Pfizer booster vaccine is recommended for groups including first responders, education staff, public transit workers, and grocery store employees. The other eligible occupational groups are those working in correction facilities, manufacturing workers, and agriculture workers.
There are efforts, including from the White House, to expand booster shot eligibility in the face of the surging spread of the Delta variant. Walgreens is one of the pharmacy chains offering Pfizer booster shots.
Timing for getting the Pfizer booster shot
For individuals who are eligible for Pfizer's booster shot, the extra shot is recommended at least six months after completing the original vaccine series. That means you can receive the third dose six months after you got the second dose required for primary protection.