When and Where to Get a Pfizer COVID Booster Shot

The CDC has endorsed Pfizer COVID booster shots for certain U.S. adults after an advisory committee recommended an extra jab to help at-risk people increase their level of protection.

The health agency said that, according to its updated guidance, people should get a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine shot at least six months after their initial doses, even if they aren't immunocompromised, if: They are 65 or older or in long-term care settings; or they are aged between 50 and 64 and have underlying medical conditions.

The CDC also said younger people aged between 18 and 49 with underlying medical conditions may get a third Pfizer shot, based on their individual risks. The same goes for people aged 18 to 64 who are at an increased risk of exposure to COVID because of where they work.

In an email sent in the early hours of this morning, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the booster shots would help the agency "best serve the nation's public health needs" and added it was investigating booster shots for people who took the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well.

A number of state health departments currently say that certain immunocompromised people can access an additional vaccine dose by visiting a clinic, pharmacy, or health-care provider. According to The New York Times, it will work much the same way with the new booster shot recommendations, and people should call ahead for scheduling.

In Vermont, for example, people may get an additional shot at some pharmacies and state vaccination clinics as long as they agree that they fit the CDC's description of someone with a moderately to severely compromised immune system. The state health department says it will release more information on how to get a booster shot based on the CDC's new recommendations soon.

Similar advice has been issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which states people with compromised immune systems can check with their health-care provider about getting a third dose and that they're available from clinics, pharmacies and local health departments. It added that more information about the new booster shots for this month will be given soon.

Third Vaccine Doses

The CDC's most recent booster shot news shouldn't be confused with additional shots for immunocompromised people, which have been available since August.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer and Moderna shots on August 12, allowing doctors to boost immunity in "certain immunocompromised individuals" by giving them a third Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose.

The CDC makes a distinction between additional doses and booster doses, noting that a booster dose refers to a dose given to those who had built enough protection after their first two doses, but that the protection then waned over time. An additional dose is for someone who didn't get enough protection in the first place from their initial jabs.

COVID vaccine
A nurse receives a COVID vaccine shot in New York City on January 4, 2021. The CDC has endorsed vaccine booster shots for certain U.S. citizens. Shannon Stapleton/Pool / Getty