Lucas Holter, Senior Photographer

On Sept. 27, in a university-wide email, CEO of Yale Health Paul Genecin announced that Yale community members aged 65 and older or at increased risk for severe COVID-19 cases are now eligible to receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

This announcement comes just five days after the FDA extended its Emergency Use Authorization on Sept. 22 for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to include a third “booster” dose for select groups of individuals who received the second dose at least six months ago. The FDA previously gave the Pfizer vaccine full approval. The extension was “significant, as it allowed the CDC to recommend additional doses,” according to Richard Martinello, Medical Director for Infection Prevention at Yale New Haven Hospital. 

People 65 and older, residents in long-term care settings and people between 50 and 64 years old with underlying medical conditions should receive the booster shot, the CDC announced on Friday. People between 18 and 49 years old with underlying medical conditions or “who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional setting” may receive the booster shot, the CDC added. In preparation for increased demand for vaccinations, Yale has relocated its COVID-19 vaccine program to 310 Winchester Ave.

“[Boosters are] significant for older individuals and younger individuals with compromised immune systems who now can receive a third shot as protection against severe disease, although only if they received the Pfizer vaccine for the first two boosters,” associate professor of epidemiology Luke Davis wrote in an email to the News. “It may be significant for those living in countries with limited access to vaccines, as it may further delay their access.” 

According to the CDC, the booster shot not only helps to better protect against the Delta variant, but also compensates for decreased protection against the virus over time from the “primary series” — or the first two vaccine doses. However, the Center “continues to recognize full vaccination to consist of just the two vaccination doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson.”

The CDC has not released formal guidance about booster shots for people who received alternative vaccines, specifically the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots. There are no recommendations for mixing doses from different companies. 

“The FDA will reportedly rule on Moderna’s proposed boosters within days, and consider Johnson & Johnson’s application within the next few weeks,” Davis wrote.

In Genecin’s Monday email, the campus community was informed that the University’s COVID-19 program is now offering the Pfizer booster shot in its new location at 310 Winchester Ave., with accessible entrances on Winchester Avenue and Argyle Street. 

Martinello attributes the relocation of the vaccine program to “Yale’s anticipat[ed] increased demand for vaccination” following the CDC’s announcement that the booster will become available to a wider population. 

As of this morning, eligible Yale faculty, staff, students and Yale Health members can and have started to schedule online appointments through the program’s vaccine portal. Existing logistical and COVID-19 protocols are still in place; they require that visitors wear a mask and bring a photo ID and an insurance card. Visitors are required to stay for 15 minutes of observation following their shot.

Starting Sept. 29 and throughout October, the booster shot will be offered on select days in addition to every Wednesday, when other vaccine options and non-booster shots are usually available. The clinic’s full schedule can be accessed here

According to Davis, it is still not clear if boosters will be recommended for the general population. Although the Biden administration had announced in August that this could be a future possibility, regulators have declined to approve this, citing insufficient evidence.

According to Bloomberg, as of Sept. 27, 390 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States.

VERONICA LEE
Veronica Lee covers breakthrough research for SciTech. She is a sophomore in Branford College majoring in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.
BRIAN ZHANG
Brian Zhang is a first year in Davenport College.