New guidelines from the CDC have opened up COVID-19 to provide booster shots to a wider swath of people. Booster shots offer additional protection against coronavirus by boosting antibodies, something that might be crucial to those at higher risk of severe illness and those for whom the effects of the initial vaccine might be waning.
According to the updated rules, people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and fit the criteria are eligible for a booster shot 6 months after their second dose of the initial round of vaccines. The CDC recommends the booster shot to anyone 18 years or older who has underlying medical conditions (including but not limited to asthma or heart disease), works in high-risk environments (such as educators, grocery store cashiers, or grocery store workers), or lives in a long-term care facility. In addition, anyone aged 65 or over is eligible for the booster shot. There is a separate set of criteria for those who received the Johnon & Johnson vaccine. Anyone who received Johnson & Johnson two months ago or more is eligible for a booster shot.
Booster shot recipients are not restricted to the original vaccine they were given. On October 20th, the FDA gave approval for people to take any of the three available vaccines regardless of their initial shot, often referred to as “mixing and matching.” Though data is limited, recent studies have shown that no additional adverse side effects (beyond those experienced by some during their initial vaccination) have resulted from mixing and matching.
Director of the CDC Dr. Rochelle Walensky encouraged Americans to continue getting vaccinated, saying in a statement “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.”
People looking to receive a booster shot can use the VaxFinder website (VaxFinder.mass.gov) to search for clinic locations nearby. There are over 460 locations in Massachusetts, with two new sites opening in Brockton and Danvers on October 26th. What does this mean for Bridgewater students?
You can check your eligibility status with a short questionnaire on the Massachusetts government’s COVID FAQs website. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, know you have an underlying medical condition, or work in an environment that puts you at frequent risk of exposure, consult with your doctor and consider getting a jab. Two sites close to campus, Walgreens and CVS, offer the booster shot by appointment.