This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized second booster doses of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for individuals ages 50 & older, and those ages 12 and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (weakened immune system).
In a statement released Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed FDA’s authorization of an additional booster. CDC also stated that adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least four months ago may now receive an additional booster dose using Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
According to the FDA, current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time against serious outcomes from COVID-19 in older and immunocompromised individuals. Individuals may receive a second booster dose if it has been at least four months since their first booster dose. Immunocompromised individuals may receive a total of five doses, three in the primary series and two booster doses.
“COVID-19 vaccines continue to be safe and are effective at preventing hospitalization and death. Real-world data from Israel shows that an additional booster dose is safe and life-saving. Mortality due to the Omicron variant in this data set was significantly lower—a 78% reduction—in those ages 60 and older in Israel who received an additional booster dose,” said NDDoH Immunization Director Molly Howell.
“People need to consider their age and health status when choosing whether or not to receive an additional booster dose. North Dakotans are encouraged to have a conversation with a trusted healthcare provider to make sure they are making the best decision for themselves.”
Additional booster doses may not be available to the public until next week (April 4). As a reminder, people may be vaccinated against other diseases (such as influenza or shingles) at the same time as receiving a COVID-19 booster. People who have had COVID-19 in the past 90 days may consider delaying an additional booster dose.
Currently in North Dakota, only 54% (193,839) of eligible adults have received their first booster dose.
“North Dakotans who haven’t yet received their first booster dose are highly encouraged to do so,” said Howell. “Booster doses add a strong layer of protection against severe COVID-19 outcomes, including hospitalization and death. Vaccine effectiveness is much higher after the third dose than after the second.”
Though the Omicron subvariant BA.2 is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, BA.2 is not yet the dominant variant in North Dakota—representing only 4.6% of all specimens sequenced last week. BA.2 is more transmissible than the prior BA.1 Omicron variant but appears to be no more severe.
Information on COVID-19 vaccine providers and clinics can be found on the NDDoH COVID Vaccine Locator. Individuals can also contact the NDDoH Public Health Hotline at 1-866-207-2880 for questions related to COVID-19 and for assistance in scheduling a vaccine appointment.