Today, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccines in certain populations. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization and CDC’s recommendation for use are important steps forward as we work to stay ahead of the virus and keep Americans safe.

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

For the nearly 15 million 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.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. 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.

Millions of people are newly eligible to receive a booster shot and will benefit from additional protection. However, today’s action should not distract from the critical work of ensuring that unvaccinated people take the first step and get an initial COVID-19 vaccine. More than 65 million Americans remain unvaccinated, leaving themselves – and their children, families, loved ones, and communities– vulnerable.

Available data right now show that all three of the COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus and help prevent new variants from emerging.

The following is attributable to Dr. Walensky:

“These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19. 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.”

Immediate Past President, American Medical Association, Dr. Susan Bailey released the following statement:

“The AMA appreciates the efforts undertaken by the CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to recommend a booster dose of the Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines in certain populations, and the flexibility for individuals to choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Under the FDA’s authorization and the CDC’s recommendations, physicians and other vaccine providers will be permitted to offer a booster dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, at least six months after the primary series, to individuals 65 years of age and older, long-term care facility residents, and to those aged 18 – 64 with underlying medical conditions or who live and work in high-risk settings. The recommendations also support a booster dose of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine for all individuals 18 years of age and older who were vaccinated with a J&J dose two or more months ago, which the data shows may be necessary to offer the same level of protection as those who received mRNA vaccines.

“We believe the FDA’s authorization and the CDC’s recommendations in support of booster doses, including the flexibility to mix-and-match products, will help provide continued protection against COVID-19 for those who need it most. The balance of benefits and risks for booster doses varies, and we encourage those who have questions to reach out to their physician or vaccine provider.

“The scientific evidence is clear that the vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and remain effective in preventing hospitalization and severe disease. We continue to strongly urge everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 and is eligible, including pregnant people, to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones. We also encourage the public to continue taking evidence-based public health measures, such as physical distancing and wearing face masks, to help protect those not yet eligible for vaccination.