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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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COVID-19 vaccine booster shots: Who is eligible now & who could become eligible to get one soon

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 6:31 AM, Sep 17, 2021

(WSYM) — The topic of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots has been contentious between health officials and President Joe Biden's administration.

Earlier this month, both the FDA and the CDC urged the White House to re-think its plan to rollout boosters starting this coming Monday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he supports the booster based on data from Israel which found an additional Pfizer shot provided 10 times more protection against COVID-19 and severe disease. The company is suggesting that you get a booster shot after six months.

But with the booster comes questions, like who will get the booster shot? Experts say it's likely those with low antibody levels and at greater risk for infection.

Natalie Phillips is one woman who said she already got a booster shot as soon as she could.

"I didn't want to have to wait again," she said.

Phillips, who has Chron's Disease, had to wait until the COVID-19 vaccine became available for the immunocompromised earlier this year. Once she learned the booster shot was available in recent weeks, she said she jumped on the opportunity, signing up at CVS.

She was able to get the shot, based on qualifying medications that she takes.

"There was very little risk involved and I thought, anything I can do to be proactive and prevent any kind of hospitalization of any kind. That's what I'm always looking to do when it comes to my personal health," she said.

Dr. Anurag Malani, the medical director of hospital epidemiology and infectious diseases lead for COVID-19 response at St. Joseph Mercy Health System, said Phillips is among only 3% of the population currently authorized to get the shot – those who are immunocompromised.

He said he doesn't foresee the CDC or FDA recommending the booster shot to a majority of people, but if you are in a position to get it and concerned about the flu vaccine, you can get both.

"The good news around that is you can actually get a flu shot and a booster shot -- if you need a booster shot, and it's recommended and indicated -- you can actually get those together," Malani said.

He added that whether the booster will need to be administered periodically, like the flu vaccine, remains to be seen.

Dr. Payal Patel with the University of Michigan Health System said there's no need to worry about the original doses' longevity at this point.

"So it's not like 8 months, whoop, it's gone, it is still there just like most vaccines. We're just trying to figure out when the next shot makes sense to keep you protected for a long time," Patel said.

Whichever vaccine you got, the recommendation is to go with the same manufacturer for the booster.

But, there is an argument against widely administering a booster since many parts of the world don't have the vaccine right now.