COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses: What You Need to Know
This message about COVID-19 vaccine booster doses and flu vaccinations was sent to the Drexel Community:
Dear Students and Colleagues:
After careful review of available scientific data and COVID-19 disease trends, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provided guidelines for obtaining a third dose of vaccine (referred to as a “booster” dose) for certain individuals who are already fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine. A booster dose is intended to help the vaccine remain as effective as possible over long periods of time, and may even increase your body’s protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Guidance concerning booster doses for those who were vaccinated with the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine will soon be available following further scientific review.
Many locations in our region have begun to make booster doses available for those fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine. If you are fully vaccinated with Pfizer vaccine, please carefully read the latest CDC guidance concerning booster eligibility. The recommendations focus upon 1) those fully vaccinated persons at significant risk of serious breakthrough COVID-19 disease because of waning immunity over time, and 2) persons who are at risk of breakthrough disease because they live or work in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure to infection.
Does the CDC Recommend a Booster Shot for Me?
The CDC guidance includes populations that should receive a booster and those who may receive a booster. The word may indicates that the decision to receive a booster is up to individuals in certain work settings who are six (6) months out from full vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine. As noted above, the current guidance applies only to people who were initially vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to the latest CDC guidance, the following people SHOULD get a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster shot at least six (6) months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series:
- People 65 years of age and older.
- Adult residents in long-term-care settings.
- People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions.
According to the CDC, the following people MAY get a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster shot at least six (6) months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks:
- People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions.
- People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting.
All persons who fit the CDC guidance are eligible for a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This includes those individuals who were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at least six (6) months ago and are health care providers (including health professions students), first responders, and those who work in settings with exposure to high-risk settings as noted by the CDC.
Does Drexel Require a Booster Shot?
Drexel’s current COVID-19 vaccine mandate does not require receipt of a booster dose, but we want members of our community to have the information they need to make informed decisions. We recommend you discuss obtaining a booster dose with your primary care provider. At this time, there is no need to record a booster shot in the Drexel Health Checker App.
Where Can I Get a Booster Shot?
You can schedule booster doses at most retail locations that already administer COVID-19 vaccines, such as drug stores and Philadelphia city clinics. You can locate a vaccine provider near you at Vaccines.gov by simply entering your zip code and the vaccine you seek.
Drexel continues to hold vaccine clinics Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, in partnership with Sunray Pharmacy. While booster doses are available throughout the region, we are adding several vaccine clinics during the week of October 5th for your convenience to obtain your booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, should you meet the CDC guidance. You can schedule your vaccine appointment here. If you don’t see a slot for a booster appointment, check back as more clinic times will be added. Always bring your current vaccine card, insurance card (if you have one) and a form of identification with your birthdate on it when you go to a obtain a COVID-19 booster shot.
Don’t Forget Your Flu Vaccine!
Sunray Pharmacy is also making flu vaccinations available during these clinics. Drexel strongly recommends annual flu vaccination for your health and the health of your community — it also reduces the risk that you will have a COVID-19 scare, since the two diseases share certain symptoms. Read more about this year’s flu season and the vaccine here.
As you plan for your health, please know that vaccinations that protect you from COVID-19 disease and influenza are safe, effective, and do not need to be given at different times.
It’s About You — and Your Community
When it comes to vaccine-preventable communicable diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza, being vaccinated means you are taking care of yourself and those you call family, co-workers, and friends. Drexel is a large community of students, faculty, professional staff, and neighbors. We are experiencing a pandemic together, and together, we will emerge from it.
Marla J. Gold, MD, FACP
Chief Wellness Office and Sr Vice Provost Community Health