When will Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot be available after CDC’s surprise announcement?

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky overruled the advisory panel’s decision to keep Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shots for people 65 and older or those with health risks, instead, expanding the availability to those people with high-risk jobs, when can you start rolling up your sleeve for a third jab?

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The answer may be sooner than you’d think.

Who is now eligible for the shot after Walensky’s announcement?

According to The Washington Post, coronavirus booster shots can be given to:

  • People 65 and older.
  • Nursing home residents.
  • People 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions, with those 18 to 49 able to assess their own risk and get one if they decide to do so.
  • People who are 18 to 64 but are at risk of exposure due to their job or other institutional settings.

Walensky’s announcement mimics the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization to approve the boosters for those whose “frequent institutional or occupational exposure” puts them at high risk, The Washington Post reported.

Those jobs include teachers, health care workers, caregivers, prisoners and prison workers, and grocery store employees, CNBC reported.

The panels only approved the Pfizer booster but will also make recommendations once data is available for both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, The New York Times reported.

>>Previous coverage: CDC endorses COVID-19 booster shots for people aged 65+ and otherwise vulnerable

When can a person get the booster?

Pfizer booster shots will be dispensed to patients six months after they received their second dose. About 26 million people are within the window of now being able to get the booster. Half those are aged 65 and older, the Post reported.

The White House could roll out a plan as soon as Friday and it is expected to be rolled out similarly to the initial distribution, The New York Times reported. Keep an eye on your state’s health department and pharmacy websites for the most up to date information.

Have people already gotten a booster?

Yes, some people already qualified for a Pfizer booster shot, as well as for a booster of the Moderna vaccine. Federal health officials had already allowed people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and those who have received organ transplants, to get the third jab, the Post reported.

Some people can get one even before the six-month point if they are severely immune-compromised, The New York Times reported.

>>Related: Moderna chief executive sees pandemic over in a year

Can I mix doses?

Not yet. The CDC is reviewing whether the brands of vaccine can be mixed, the Post reported. Despite not being approved, some Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients have been getting Pfizer boosters on their own and San Francisco health officials said they will give them if a person consults their doctor first, the Times reported.

What are the side effects of the booster?

There isn’t much data yet, but what researchers have found so far is that the side effects are similar to those of the previous doses: fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most common, the Times reported.

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