The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a vaccine booster. A “booster dose” is another dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time (this is called waning immunity). Health officials are encouraging people to get their COVID booster shots as the holiday season approaches.
Based on CDC recommendations, the Indiana Department of Health supports the administration of booster doses to individuals who attest to meeting CDC guidelines.
Booster doses are recommended for anyone 18 or older who received the second Pfizer or Moderna doses at least six months ago, or got the single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine two or more months ago.
Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose (Español). Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix-and-match dosing for booster shots. The type of vaccine at each site is designated on the map and by the site name (M for Moderna, P for Pfizer and J for Johson & Johnson).
A booster dose is not the same as the third additional dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine due to an individual’s immunocompromised status. Sometimes people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised do not build enough (or any) protection when they first get a vaccination. When this happens, getting another dose of the vaccine can sometimes help them build more protection against the disease.
The state Department of Health, following guidance from the CDC and ACIP, recommends that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised receive an additional dose of the mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine due to their increased vulnerability to serious, prolonged illness from COVID-19.
This includes people who have:
- Been receiving 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
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
People should talk to their healthcare providers about their medical condition and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them. A physician’s order is not necessary to receive a third dose, but the vaccination provider may ask for verbal confirmation of eligibility.
Check the Indiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine page and select “Click here to find a vaccination site and register.” Some retail providers offer walk-in appointments, including all Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies and some Kroger, Walgreens and Meijer locations. Note that some pharmacy websites require you to answer questions about your vaccination status before presenting the option for a booster. Many sites let you book appointments for the specific brand of vaccine or booster you prefer, based on availability.