All adults now eligible for COVID-19 boosters

Published 7:29 pm Monday, November 22, 2021

All adults who received the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are now eligible to get a booster shot six months after their second dose following approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

The CDC and FDA action now allows 2.2 million state residents to get a booster shot.

Boosters were first recommended for those living in long-term care facilities, for people 65 and up and for those at least 18 years old who were at increased risk due to underlying medical conditions or because of where they work or live.

“As more scientific data showing the effectiveness of a booster dose comes in, VDH welcomes this move by the CDC and FDA,” said state vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula in a statement. “These vaccines are incredibly safe and effective, but no vaccine prevents 100% of illness. All vaccines’ effectiveness wanes over time, and the data show a tangible benefit to people when they receive a vaccine booster.”

The CDC recommends anyone 18 and up who received the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine get a booster dose at least two months after being vaccinated.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the decision to authorize the booster to all adults reflects the current state of the coronavirus pandemic, the current vaccine effectiveness data over time and a close look at safety data among those having received a COVID-19 vaccine and booster.

“Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people’s protection against infection and severe outcomes,” Walensky said in a statement, “and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays. Based on the compelling evidence, all adults over 18 should now have equitable access to a COVID-19 booster dose.”

Avula said that as the holiday season begins and with colder weather, “now is the perfect time to get vaccinated if you’re 5 years or older or get a booster dose if fully vaccinated and you’re 18 years or older. Because the flu season is here, we also urge that everyone aged 6 months or older get a separate flu vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine can be safely administered at the same time as the flu shot.”

Avula said vaccine supply is not an issue, and people can get a booster at multiple sites, including pharmacies, one’s healthcare provider, the local health department, community vaccination centers and other community vaccination events.

“We urge you to do so to move forward and out of this pandemic,” Avula said.

Everyone age 5 and up is eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination. To find a free vaccine, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users can call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in multiple languages.

Among localities in the Western Tidewater Health District — Suffolk, Isle of Wight County, Southampton County and Franklin — and the Crater Health District’s Surry County, 17,044 people have received a third dose or booster shot, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

That number includes 9,144 people in Suffolk (9.9%), 4,848 in Isle of Wight (13.1%), 1,377 in Southampton (7.8%), 990 in Franklin (12.4%) and 685 in Surry (10.7%).