Eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots expands
After the CDC issued new recommendations for booster shots for COVID-19 on Thursday, Yale expanded eligibility for booster shots for some recipients of the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
Regina Sung, Photo Editor
The University has expanded eligibility for who can receive a COVID-19 booster shot after the CDC on Thursday announced updated recommendations.
On Friday, Yale Health CEO Paul Genecin and Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity and University COVID-19 Coordinator Stephanie Spangler sent emails detailing the new eligibility for booster shots. According to the emails, individuals who are six months out from their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccination can receive booster shots if they are 65 years of age or older or if they are 18 or older and are living in a long-term care setting, have an underlying medical condition or work or live in a high-risk setting. Those over 18 who initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can receive a booster two months after their initial vaccination. At Yale, the booster clinics are over 90 percent booked this week, according to Cheryl Carden, a registered nurse at Yale Health.
“We know all COVID vaccines show evidence of waning effectiveness over time and so the booster shots are important in preventing breakthrough infections,” professor of epidemiology Michael B. Bracken wrote in an email to the News. “When the pandemic is over, we will most likely have COVID as an endemic disease, requiring annual shots –– just like we have for flu.”
According to Genecin’s email, the CDC recommends that individuals receive the same booster vaccine as their primary series, but “mixing vaccine doses from different manufacturers is permissible.”
In her email on Friday, Spangler wrote that the CDC allows people to choose from any of the three vaccines. She recommended that people consult with their healthcare provider should they have questions about which vaccine to receive.
“Many individuals will choose the same vaccine for their booster shot that they originally received, especially if they had no problems with that vaccination,” Spangler wrote in her email.
The CDC’s Oct. 21 “Interim Clinical Considerations for Moderna and Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses” notes that booster dose and volume for a Moderna booster is different than the original series of two shots, but the Pfizer and J&J boosters have the same dosage as the original vaccinations.
Genecin wrote to the News that the amount of people who will now get boosters is “hard to estimate” because eligibility is defined loosely.
“No doubt, we will see thousands of people seeking boosters, including all in the designated age range and many who interpret the CDC guidelines as applicable to them,” Genecin wrote to the News.
According to Genecin, the response to the expanded eligibility has been “very enthusiastic” based on the number of people getting booster shots at Yale.
Genecin added that immunocompromised individuals can also schedule an additional dose, which is distinct from booster vaccines. According to the Yale Health website, additional doses are “recommended for people who do not have an adequate response to their original vaccine series due to conditions or medications that suppress their immune system.” For the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, additional doses can be administered 28 days after the second dose, but booster shots must be six months after the second dose. Patients who received the J&J vaccine are not eligible for additional doses.
Prior to these recommendations, the CDC only expanded booster shot eligibility requirements for people who received the Pfizer vaccine.
Spangler encouraged everyone eligible to get a booster and emphasized the opportunity for unvaccinated community members to receive their first doses.
“I hope that you will take advantage of these opportunities to get a booster shot if you are eligible,” Spangler wrote in her email. “If you are not yet vaccinated, it’s not too late to schedule your initial vaccination. Taking these important actions will help to keep you, your loved ones and our Yale and New Haven communities as safe and healthy as possible.”
Genecin also said that members of the general public at lower risk of severe COVID-19 cases will likely next be able to receive the booster.
Students eligible for booster shots can schedule appointments at 310 Winchester Ave. through the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine program. For assistance, students can call the Campus COVID-19 Resource Line at 203-432-6604.