The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a guidance on the people who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots now that the third doses from Pfizer-BioNTech have arrived.

Why We Need A Booster Shot

Although the COVID-19 vaccines are designed to provide protection from the novel coronavirus, their efficacy is known to wane over time. This led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to amend its authorizations for the vaccines to enable the administration of a third dose for certain people who are immunocompromised.

Thus far, only Pfizer’s booster has been approved for use in certain populations. However, other vaccine brands could also follow suit as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still awaiting the FDA’s decision on their booster shots. But first, their booster jabs are to be evaluated this week. Once evaluation is over, the federal agency can decide on recommending the shots for emergency use, according to NBC Chicago.

The idea of having booster shots is not at all new. Ever since the vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 were in the works, scientists have already acknowledged the need for boosters. This means a third dose for those who got the Moderna and Pfizer jabs, and a second dose for those who got the Janssen vaccine.

“It’s just another dose of a vaccine you received. The concept is to prolong protective immunity, particularly if there is evidence that protection is waning after a period of time,” Albert Shaw, MD, PhD, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, explained.

Who Are Eligible For The Booster Shots?

Last week, the CDC released its guidance on who are eligible for the Pfizer booster shots that are available right now. According to the public health agency, certain recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine who completed their two-dose vaccination at least six months prior are now allowed to get their third dose.

The CDC specifically indicated that people 65 years and beyond who have completed their main series of Pfizer vaccination can now avail the third dose. People belonging to the 18-49 and 50-64 age groups who have underlying medical conditions are also encouraged to get the booster shots as they are at risk of suffering the severe form of COVID-19.

Additionally, the agency listed the following employees aged 18 to 49 who are advised to get the Pfizer booster shots right now: first responders, academic staff, food and agriculture workers, corrections workers, manufacturing workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, grocery store workers and public transit workers.

The guidance the CDC released seemingly mirrored the amended emergency use authorization that the FDA published on its website on Sept. 22. At the time, Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, said that they came up with the amendment after careful deliberation with external experts and with the help of available scientific evidence on the efficacy of the vaccines amid the pandemic.