BOSTON (CBS) — The FDA has finally authorized booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for senior citizens and other high-risk groups. Dr. Mallika Marshall is here to answer questions about booster shots pertaining to the Pfizer vaccine.
Q: Doctor, does this mean people can go out and get a booster shot now?
A: Not yet. Yes, the FDA has authorized boosters for people over 65 and people who have health conditions that put them at higher risk of getting severe COVID. Boosters should be given at least six months after the second Pfizer dose.
After that decision, a CDC panel recommended boosters for those who are ages 65 and older, people 50 and older with underlying medical conditions, and anyone over 18 who is immunocompromised. However, the panel did not include those who work in jobs with potentially high exposure to COVID like healthcare workers and teachers.
Q: But what are those high risk conditions?
A: Probably diabetes, obesity, kidney disease and others. But we still must wait for the CDC to weigh in and give further guidance on that.
Q: What about people originally vaccinated with Moderna or J&J?
A: It’s unclear whether regulators will recommend a Pfizer booster only for people who got Pfizer originally and not for those who received Moderna or J&J vaccines. Decisions on those boosters will come later. But will people be able to mix and match in the meantime? That’s not clear yet.
Q: What about otherwise healthy adults and teens? Will they eventually get boosters?
A: Public health experts will constantly revisit this issue and yes, boosters for the general population will be considered as more data is collected. If it looks like immunity is waning in the general population resulting in more hospitalizations and death, then you can bet boosters will be recommended more broadly.