Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine: Booster shot timeline, eligibility and more

A Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster is in the works.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

If you’re fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, you could be eligible for a booster shot soon, perhaps as earlier as later this month. Federal scientists and health officials are working out a schedule for a booster shot for those who’ve already received two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.

As recent studies show the effectiveness of vaccines may start to decline after six to eight months, a Pfizer vaccine booster would top off your immune response to COVID-19 and variants. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are evaluating the effectiveness of booster shots from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The FDA gave full approval to Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine in August and has already authorized a third Pfizer dose for certain people with compromised immune systems.

When you can get your Pfizer booster shot, where you can get it and who would be eligible are still developing stories, but we’ll lay out what we know so far. For more on COVID-19, here’s what we know about COVID-19 vaccine for kids, and the latest guidance on masks and breakthrough infections. And here’s what you should know about the new federal COVID-19 mandates.

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine: Booster shot timeline, eligibility and more

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Why would I need a Pfizer booster shot?

First, know that if you are fully vaccinated, the CDC said you will continue to be protected from infection and especially against serious illness. All the COVID-19 vaccine shots authorized by the FDA continue to be “highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” according to the CDC.

However, recent studies — such as one from Israel and another from the UK — suggest that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines may decrease after six or eight months and a booster shot may be needed to maintain high levels of protection against breakthrough COVID infections.

Who would be eligible for the COVID booster shot?

President Joe Biden said he wants everyone in the US who is already fully vaccinated to be eligible for a booster shot. 

The administration’s sweeping booster goal, however, is not necessarily shared by other global health agencies. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of World Health Organization, has called for a moratorium on booster doses until every country is able to vaccinate at least 40% of its population. “I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers,” Tedros said earlier this month.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has repeatedly said having enough boosters for the US does not reduce the number of vaccines the US supplies to other countries. “We feel that it’s a false choice and that we can do both,” Psaki said in August, adding that the US has donated more vaccines globally than all other countries combined.


Already vaccinated? A booster could be in your future.

When can I get my Pfizer booster shot?

The timing is not completely clear. In August, Biden said government health officials were recommending that those who are fully vaccinated be considered eligible for a booster shot eight months after their last jab, pending approval from the FDA and CDC. That would mean those who became fully vaccinated by the middle of January would be eligible for a booster shot this month.

Since Biden first announced booster plans, the proposed booster timeline has shifted around — from six months and even five months to the currently considered eight months. Ultimately, Biden is leaving the final say to the FDA and CDC. “As soon as they are authorized, those eligible will be able to get a booster right away,” Biden said during his recent speech on federal vaccine mandates.

Whenever it happens, Pfizer’s booster may be first out of the gate. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, Pfizer’s booster shot may be the first to receive approval, with those from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to follow. That’s because Pfizer’s booster shot is further along in the FDA approval process than the other two formulations.

Are some people already eligible for a Pfizer booster shot?

Some immunocompromised people are already eligible under guidelines from the CDC and can go out now to get their third dose. The CDC’s booster recommendation is for those 12 and older for the Pfizer vaccine. For the Moderna vaccine, the CDC is recommending 18 and older. The FDA hasn’t authorized a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for immunocompromised people, because of a lack of data.

The CDC recommends you should talk with your health care provider about your medical condition and whether an additional dose is appropriate. See our guide on the booster vaccine for more on a booster shot for moderately to severely immunocompromised people.

Will the Pfizer booster be the same as the first Pfizer COVID-19 two shots?

Yes. According to Pfizer, its COVID-19 booster would be a third jab of the same vaccine you got with the first two doses. 

Separately, Pfizer is working with its partner BioNTech on a version of the COVID-19 vaccine that targets the delta variant.

Where can I get my Pfizer booster shot?

According to White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients, boosters will be available at roughly 80,000 places across the country, including over 40,000 local pharmacies. Some 90% of Americans have a vaccine site within 5 miles of where they live, Zients said, and getting a booster shot will be just as easy as getting the first shot. And the booster shot will be free too. 

You can check to see which vaccines are available where or call 800- 232-0233 for vaccine information.

For more on coronavirus treatments and vaccines, here’s what we know about monoclonal antibody treatments, the new federal vaccine mandates and why people may not want the shot.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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