People 65 and Older, Other High-Risk Groups Approved for Pfizer Booster Shot
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Published on September 24, 2021

People 65 and Older, Other High-Risk Groups Approved for Pfizer Booster Shot

Avera facilities on Friday began giving Pfizer booster vaccines to certain high-risk people, following federal approvals.

“Giving these people the immune boost they need will help reduce their risk and bring us out of the pandemic,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President for Clinical Quality for Avera Medical Group. “This comes at a time when we’re all getting our flu shots. If you’re eligible, get your COVID booster at the same time to protect yourself against both these potentially deadly viruses.” 

The booster is available to people:

  • 65 years of age and older
  • Living in long-term care facilities
  • 18 – 49 years old with underlying medical conditions based on individual benefits and risks
  • 50 – 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19 because of underlying medical conditions such as cancer, COPD, heart conditions, obesity, past and present smokers, and pregnancy or recent pregnancy
  • 18 –64 who are at increased risk for COVID due to their occupation or institutional setting. This includes:
    • Essential workers: health care workers, teachers, day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters, long-term care facilities and prisons
    • Paid and unpaid workers who interact with people within less than 6 feet of others
    • Unpaid caregivers of a frail or immunocompromised person
    • People living in congregate settings such as prisons or homeless shelters

The booster must be given at least six months after the primary series and is only available to those who initially got the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Six months after the primary series means that if you received your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 18, you would be eligible the Pfizer booster on Sept. 18.

People who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines should not receive a booster dose of Pfizer.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday approved an amendment to the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to allow for the booster dose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also endorsed the amendment.

A booster is given when the initial immune response is waning a bit and an additional boost is needed. Evidence reviewed by the FDA found that the booster brought participants immune responses back up to 95% — the level reached a month after the initial two-dose series was completed. 

This decision is in addition to recent guidance that immunocompromised patients are eligible for a third dose. The third dose is the same as the first two doses and can be administered at least four weeks after completing the primary vaccine series for people who might not have reached the appropriate immune response. 

If you’re eligible for a booster or a third dose, contact your primary care provider or go to vaccines.gov to find a location near you. Learn more about Avera’s response to COVID at Avera.org/covid-vaccine

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