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CDC Expands Eligibility for COVID-19 Booster Shots

October 25, 2021

On October 21, 2021, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine in certain populations. The FDA’s authorization and CDC’s recommendation for use are important steps forward as we work to stay ahead of the virus and keep Americans safe.

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

For the nearly 15 million people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Millions of people are newly eligible to receive a booster shot and will benefit from additional protection. However, today’s action should not distract from the critical work of ensuring that unvaccinated people take the first step and get an initial COVID-19 vaccine. More than 65 million Americans remain unvaccinated, leaving themselves- and their children, families, loved ones, and communities- vulnerable.

Available data right now show that all three of the COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the US continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus and help prevent new variants from emerging.

The following is attributable to Dr. Walensky:

“These recommendations are another example of our fundamental commitment to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19. The evidence shows that all three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe- as demonstrated by the over 400 million vaccine doses already given. And they are all highly effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even in the midst of the widely circulating Delta variant.”

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Who is Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot?

October 18, 2021

What You Need To Know

COVID-19 Vaccine booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago are:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work in high-risk settings
  • Age 18+ who live in high-risk settings

Data Supporting Need For A Booster Shot

Studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time and be less able to protect against the Delta variant. Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults aged 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggests vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms. Emerging evidence also shows that among healthcare and other frontline workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection is decreasing over time. This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of decreasing protection as time passes since getting vaccinated (e.g., waning immunity) as well as the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant.

Data from a small clinical trial shows that a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their primary series 6 months earlier. With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

Booster Shots Are Only Available For Some Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Recipients

Only certain populations initially vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can get a booster shot at this time.

Older Adults & 50-64 Year Old People With Medical Conditions

People aged 65 years and older and adults 50-64 with underlying medical conditions should get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, and can also increase for adults of any age with underlying medical conditions.

Long-Term Care Setting Residents Aged 18 Years & Older

Residents aged 18 years and older of long-term care settings should get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Because residents in long-term care settings live closely together in group settings and are often older adults with underlying medical conditions, they are at increased risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.

People With Medical Conditions Aged 18-49 Years

People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on their individual benefits and risks. Adults aged 18-49 years who have underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. However, that risk is likely not as high as it would be for adults aged 50 years and older who have underlying medical conditions. People aged 18-49 years who have underlying medical conditions may get a booster shot after considering their individual risks and benefits. This recommendation may change in the future as more data becomes available.

Employees And Residents At Increased Risk For COVID-19 Exposure & Transition

People aged 18-64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on their individual benefits and risks. Adults aged 18-64 years who work or reside in certain settings (e.g., healthcare, schools, correctional facilities, homeless shelters) may be at increased risk of being exposed to COVID-19, which could be spreading where they work or reside. Since that risk can vary across settings and based on how much COVID-19 is spreading in a community, people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may get a booster shot after considering their individual risks and benefits. This recommendation may change in the future as more data becomes available.

  • Example of workers who may get the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots
    • First responders (e.g., healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
    • Education staff (e.g., teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
    • Food and agriculture workers
    • Manufacturing workers
    • Corrections workers
    • US Postal Service workers
    • Public transit workers
    • Grocery store workers

Find A COVID-19 Vaccine

Find a COVID-19 Vaccine: Search, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.

  • Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available
  • Contact your state or local health department for more information

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster if I am NOT in one of the recommended groups?
    • Additional populations may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data becomes available. The COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the United States continue to be effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working for different populations. This includes looking at how new variants, like Delta, affect vaccine effectiveness.
  • What should people do who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine do?
    • The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) & CDC’s recommendations are bound by what the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization allows. At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech booster authorization only applies to people whose primary series was Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. People in the recommended groups who got the Moderna or J&J/Janssen vaccine may need a booster shot. More data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots are expected soon. With those data in hand, CDC will keep the public informed with a timely plan for Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots.
  • If we need a booster shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?
    • No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, event against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease.
  • What are the risks to getting a booster shot?
    • So far, reactions reported after getting the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot were similar to that of the 2-shot primary series. Fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects were mild to moderate. However, as with the 2-shot primary series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.
  • Am I still considered “fully vaccinated” if I don’t get a booster shot?
    • Yes. Everyone is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine.
  • What is the difference between a booster shot and an additional dose?
    • A booster shot is administered when a person has completed their vaccine series and protection against the virus has decreased over time. Additional doses are administered to people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. This additional dose of an mRNA-COVID-19 vaccine is intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series.
  • Your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card & Booster Shots
    • At your first vaccination appointment, you should have received a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received, and where you received it. Bring this vaccination card to your booster shot vaccination appointment. If you did not receive a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination sit where you got your first shot or your state health departments to find out how you can get a card.

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How Long-Term Care Facilities Can Help Monitor COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

October 8, 2021

What Long-Term Care Facility Administrators Should Know

Staff and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities are among the first groups to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. As an administrator, your and your staff’s participation in vaccine safety monitoring is essential to ensuring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. No safety concerns have been detected to date, but ongoing monitoring will continue. The CDC has expanded safety surveillance through new systems and additional information sources, as well as by scaling up existing safety monitoring systems.

What is V-Safe?

V-safe is a new smartphone-based tool that helps CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines through the use of text messaging and web surveys. These health check-ins inform CDC how the participant is feeling after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on the answers, someone from CDC may call to check on the participant and get more information. V-safe will also remind the participant to get a second dose of the vaccine if they need one. V-safe enrollment and check-ins are quick and easy and can be done on a smartphone. V-safe cannot schedule vaccination appointments. If a participant needs to schedule, reschedule, or cancel a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, they should contact either the location that set up their appointment or local vaccination provider.

  • All long-term care staff members who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are encouraged to enroll in V-safe.
  • Long-term care residents can also enroll in V-safe. Healthcare providers and caregivers may assist residents with enrolling. However, providers or caregivers should not complete check-ins for residents.
  • At this time, only people with smartphones will be able to participate in V-safe monitoring. Long-term care residents may be less likely to have access to a smartphone and, therefore, may not be able to report side effects or adverse events through V-safe. Long-term care staff should monitor recently vaccinated residents for any potential adverse events and report those events to VAERS.

What is VAERS?

VAERS is a national vaccine safety monitoring system that helps CDC and the FDA monitor health problems after vaccination. VAERS is not designed to determine if a vaccine a health problem but is especially useful for detecting unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse event reporting that might indicate a possible safety problem with a vaccine. Residents, caregivers, healthcare providers, and nursing home staff can report medical events or health problems following vaccinations to VAERS, even if they aren’t sure the vaccine was the cause.

  • Anyone can report health problems that happen after vaccination to VAERS.
  • In general, report any medical event or health problem after COVID-19 vaccination that is concerning to you, your staff, or your residents.
  • It is especially important to report any problem that results in hospitalization, significant disability, or death.
  • VAERS does NOT provide treatment or medical advice. If a vaccine recipient needs medical advice, please contact a healthcare provider.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to report to VAERS any adverse event they think is medically important or clinically significant, even if they think the event might not be related to the vaccine. However, healthcare providers are required to report to VAERS the following adverse events, in accordance with the emergency use authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Vaccine administration errors, whether or not associated with an adverse event
  • Serious adverse events (as defined by federal law), regardless of causality, including:
    • Death
    • A life-threatening event
    • Inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization
    • Persistent or significant incapacity or substantial disruption of the ability to conduct normal life functions
    • Congenital anomaly/birth defect
    • An important medical event that based on appropriate medical judgement may jeopardize the individual and may require medical or surgical intervention to prevent one of the outcomes listed above
    • Cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C or MIS-A)
    • Cases of COVID-19 that result in hospitalization or death

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Success Story: Wilma Penix

October 5, 2021

Boyd Nursing & Rehabilitation is proud to recognize Wilma Penix’s Success Story.

Wilma came to Boyd Nursing at the end of September for a short rehab stay to regain her strength and independence. After a hospital stay for the progression of her kidney disease and coronary artery disease, Mrs. Penix was unable to care for herself safely at home. She demonstrated strength deficits and balance concerns, leading to an increased risk of falls. During her stay, she worked hard in physical and occupational therapy and was always smiling and laughing throughout her treatments.

Mrs. Wilma was able to regain her strength and her ability to ambulate more than 200ft using her case. She was ecstatic to be able to discharge home, with the help of her son! Congratulations, Mrs. Wilma, we are so excited to have been part of your success!

COVID-19 County Check Tool: Understanding Community Transmission Levels in Your County

October 4, 2021

COVID-19 spreads easily between people. CDC tracks how much COVID-19 is spreading as well as likely people are to be exposed to it with a measurement known as the “level of community transmission”. You can use the COVID-19 County Check Tool for a snapshot of your county’s level of community transmission over the past 7 days. The tool also displays guidance on masking based on how the virus is spreading in your county.

How CDC Measures the County Level of Community Transmission

CDC looks at two numbers – total new cases and percent positivity – to determine the level of community transmission.

  • Total New Cases refers to a county’s rate of new COVID-19 infections, reported over the past 7 days, per every 100,000 residents. To calculate this number, CDC divides the total number of new infections by the total population in that county. CDC multiplies this number by 100,000.
  • Percent Positivity refers to the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in a county over the past 7 days. This number is based on reports from states on a specific type of test known as a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT). To calculate this number, CDC divides the number of positive tests by the total number of NAATs performed in that county. CDC multiplies this number by 100 to calculate the percentage of all tests that were positive. Learn more at Calculating SARS-CoV-2 Laboratory Test Percent Positivity.

A higher number of total new cases and a higher percent positivity correspond with a higher level of community transmission, as shown below. If the values for each of these two metric differ (for example, if one indicated moderate and the other low), then the higher of the two should be used to make decisions about mask use in a county.

County Level of Community Transmission and Masking

People and local decision-makers should consider the county level of community transmission when making decisions about masking. Although COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are highly effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19 and preventing severe illness, vaccination in some parts of the country remains low. Layered prevention strategies – like masking along with getting vaccinated – can help further reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC’s updated guidance, issued in July 2021, advises using county community transmission levels over the last 7 days to help determine who should mask and under what circumstances. See below for a quick reference on when to mask:

County Level of Community TransmissionGuidance
High or Substantial TransmissionEveryone should wear a mask in public, indoor settings
Moderate or Low TransmissionUnvaccinated people should wear a mask in public, indoor settings

Mask requirements vary from place to place. Make sure you follow local laws, rules, regulation, or guidance. To learn more, visit