covid booster shots

What CDC Guidance on Covid Boosters, Mixing Shots, Means for You

NBC Connecticut

File photo of syringes with the Moderna vaccine.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opened the door for millions of Americans to be able to get a COVID-19 booster and choose a different company’s vaccine for the next shot if they choose.

This comes after some populations of people who had received Pfizer vaccinations months ago became eligible for a booster. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says specific Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients qualify as well.

This is what that means for you.

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

For anyone who received a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after your initial series of shots:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings (see a partial list below.)
    • Skilled nursing and nursing facilities (also known as nursing homes);
    • Intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICFs-IID);
    • Inpatient psychiatric settings, including psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs);
    • Inpatient substance use disorder facilities and residential settings for people with substance use disorders;
    • Assisted living settings for older adults and people with disabilities, including assisted living facilities, independent living facilities, residential care and continuing care retirement communities, personal care homes, and board and care homes; 
    • Senior housing, including Section 202 and other HUD-assisted housing that primarily serves older adults;
    • Housing for people with disabilities, including Section 811 HUD-assisted housing, Housing Opportunities for People living With AIDS (HOPWA), and other HUD-assisted housing that primarily serves people with disabilities;
    • Residential settings for people with disabilities and older adults, including group homes, shared living, adult foster care, and transitional housing; 
    • Congregate day programs, including adult day programs, PACE programs, day habilitation programs, and other community-based day service programs; and
    • Senior center programs and congregate nutrition programs. 
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic liver disease
    • Chronic lung diseases
      • Asthma, if it’s moderate to severe
      • Bronchiectasis (thickening of the lungs airways)
      • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (chronic lung disease affecting newborns)
      • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis
      • Having damaged or scarred lung tissue such as interstitial lung disease (including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis)
      • Cystic fibrosis, with or without lung or other solid organ transplant
      • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs)
      • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
    • Dementia or other neurological conditions
    • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
    • Down syndrome
    • Heart conditions
    • HIV infection
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
    • Mental health conditions
    • Overweight and obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
    • Smoking, current or former
    • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
    • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
    • Substance use disorders
    • Tuberculosis
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings
    • First responders (e.g., healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
    • Education staff (e.g., teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
    • Food and agriculture workers
    • Manufacturing workers
    • Corrections workers
    • U.S. Postal Service workers
    • Public transit workers
    • Grocery store workers

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

For anyone who received a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after their initial series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

For people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are recommended for people 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

Mixing COVID-19 Vaccines

The CDC said Thursday that eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose.

Some people might prefer the vaccine they originally received and others might prefer to get a different booster and the CDC’s recommendations allow for mixing and matching dosing for booster shots.

According to the CDC, more than 65 million Americans remain unvaccinated.

“These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19. The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe – as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And, they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

See the statement from the CDC here.

Third Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

Third doses of COVID-19 vaccines are different than boosters. People who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and have moderately to severely compromised immune systems have been eligible for a third dose.

On Aug. 12, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine for immunocompromised individuals who are 12 and up and receiving treatments associated with moderate to severe immune compromise.

Individuals eligible for additional doses include those who:

  • Receive active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Have advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Receive active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress immune response
  • Talk to your doctor to see if getting an additional dose is right for you.

More information is available from the CDC: COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People here.

NBC Connecticut and Associated Press