HARTFORD, Conn. — Booster shots are now available for eligible Americans, and health care systems in Connecticut are working hard to provide easy access to the extra doses.
For people who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or 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 health conditions
- Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings
For people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.
"The things that these vaccines are really good at is preventing severe diseases, hospitalization and death, and that is reiterated once you get a booster," said Dr. Syed Hussain, Chief Clinical Officer at Trinity Health of New England.
When it comes to demand for boosters, Dr. Hussain said it is down from the initial vaccine rollout.
"There might be some fatigue related to this, but it’s important as health care providers and organizations that we do our part in terms of educating folks. We can take lessons from Israel and other countries that have seen a spike in cases even though they got a large chunk of the population vaccinated originally, so it’s important people roll up their sleeves and get the booster shot," said Dr. Hussain.
The CDC and FDA have approved the mixing and matching of brands for booster shots.
"The mixing and matching portion is new to us, but it’s not new in other parts of the world" said Hussain. "For instance, we knew earlier this year, Astra Zeneca had issues especially in women when it came to rare side effects and in the European Union, there were some countries, UK, Germany and others that started mixing and matching so there’s data from those countries that indicates immunity to COVID-19 is really robust, even with the mixing and matching."
Young children could also be rolling up their sleeves pretty soon.
"It’s a third of the adult dose and it still confers a high degree of immunity per studies and also minimal side effects," said Dr. Hussain.
Dr. Hussain said the FDA is expected to weigh in on the decision to authorize Pfizer's vaccine for kids aged 5-11 this week, and the CDC could give the green light next week.
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