This week the FDA authorized and the CDC issued a recommendation for a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for individuals older than 50 and for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, to be given four months after the prior dose.
The decision to make this recommendation was based on evidence that suggests that a second booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine could improve protection against severe COVID-19 and does not appear to be associated with new safety concerns in the recommended population.
Anyone who is 50 years and older:
- mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (i.e, Pfizer or Moderna) primary series recipients:
- May receive a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least four months after receipt of a first booster dose of any authorized COVID-19 vaccine.
- This group would receive a total of four doses.
- Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine single dose followed by Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) booster recipients:
- May receive a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least four months from last dose (i.e., first booster dose).
- This group would receive a total of three doses.
- This does not apply to those who received the Pfizer or Moderna booster after Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).
According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, “This is especially important for those 65 and older and those 50 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19 as they are the most likely to benefit from receiving an additional booster dose at this time.”
- 12 to 18 years of age:
- May receive a second booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least four months after the first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
- 18 years of age and older:
- May receive a second booster dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least four months after the first booster dose of any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine.
- This group will be eligible to receive a total of five doses.
At this time, Lowell General Hospital is not offering second boosters to the general public. Visit https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ for a listing of vaccine clinic locations throughout Massachusetts.
Please see below to read through a list of answers to some commonly asked questions we have received given these latest developments.
Second Booster Dose
Two key studies out of Israel, not yet peer reviewed, demonstrated protection against infection, severe disease and death in individuals over the age of 60.
An Israeli study of healthcare workers given additional boosters demonstrated very marginal clinical benefit.
Variant-specific and combination vaccines are being studied, and more data are expected soon. It is not known whether there will be release of a new formulation of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or whether other types of vaccines will be available before you are next eligible for a booster if you get one now. Getting a booster now does mean you run the risk of not being eligible for a new one when it becomes available, but we cannot predict whether that will happen. Getting a second booster now will provide you with better protection in the near term, and might be especially beneficial if cases rise again in Massachusetts as is occurring in some parts of the world.
Protection against infection from the second booster may be short-lived, though protection from severe disease would be expected to last longer. It is possible that if you take the booster now, its protection against infection could wear off at a time when cases are higher, and you may not be eligible for another dose. This is a risk but whether it will happen cannot be predicted. It is possible that we might see a rise in cases over the next few weeks due to the BA2 subvariant of Omicron, which is more contagious.
Pfizer is still conducting its three-dose study for children under five and expect to have data in April. Moderna announced successful completion of their two-shot trial for children under six and the company is submitting their application. The shots could be available in the next couple of months.