Booster Eligibility Expanded
A Message from the COVID-19 Coordinator
Dear Members of the Yale Community,
As you likely know from these messages and broader guidance from public health experts, vaccination is the most effective, though not the only, measure we have to slow the spread of COVID-19. Indeed, it has been the high level of vaccination in our campus community that has allowed us to enjoy many in-person activities this fall.
Across the country, over 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered to individuals over the age of 12. This level of vaccination has provided us not only with strong protection against COVID-19 but also with a wealth of data. Experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) review these data on a continuing basis to assess the ongoing effectiveness of the vaccines and to detect any new risks associated with vaccination. Recent reviews addressed the issue of decreased or “waning” vaccine-related immunity over time, at least in some populations. In light of this concern, the FDA has authorized and the CDC has now recommended booster shots for many of those who have received any one of the three FDA-authorized vaccines—Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer), Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (J&J).
Am I eligible for a booster?
Yesterday, the CDC issued recommendations for boosters for individuals who had initially received the Moderna vaccine. These recommendations were largely aligned with those the CDC released last month for individuals who had received the Pfizer vaccine. The CDC issued different recommendations for those who initially received the J&J vaccine.
Individuals who initially received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are eligible for a booster shot if they are:
- 6 months or more from the second shot in their initial vaccination series, and
- 65 years of age or older or
- 18 years of age or older and
Individuals who initially received the J&J vaccine are eligible for a booster shot if they are:
- two months or more from their initial vaccination and
- 18 years of age or older.
In its recommendations, the CDC has emphasized the particular importance of boosters in people 65 years of age and older, and those who are age 50-64 with underlying medical conditions, because they are more likely to show waning immunity and become seriously ill if they contract COVID-19.
Note that the CDC previously issued specific guidance for an “additional dose” of vaccine for individuals with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This guidance differs from that for boosters.
May I choose which vaccine I want to receive for my booster shot?
In its recommendations, the CDC allows individuals who are eligible to choose which of the three vaccines they will receive as a booster shot. Many individuals will choose the same vaccine for their booster shot that they originally received, especially if they had no problems with that vaccination. The CDC has made no specific recommendations regarding choice of vaccine but indicated that it will issue additional guidance about “mixing and matching” in the future. For now, if you have any questions about which vaccine you should choose for your booster, you should consult with your health care provider.
What if I am not eligible or do not choose to receive a booster shot?
The CDC has emphasized that available data show that all three vaccines continue to be highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, even the Delta variant. Furthermore, the CDC confirmed that it considers an individual to be fully vaccinated if they are at least 2 weeks from the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the J&J vaccine. While the university encourages eligible individuals to get booster shots, boosters are not required by the university’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program at this time.
Where can I get my booster shot?
Yale’s COVID-19 Vaccine Program will offer boosters to eligible individuals starting this weekend at its new location at 310 Winchester Avenue—scheduling for these clinics will be available later today. Consult the Yale New Haven Health and State of Connecticut vaccine portals for the availability of additional clinics offering booster appointments.
I hope that you will take advantage of these opportunities to get a booster shot if you are eligible. 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.
Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator