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COVID-19 booster shot: Here's what we know about it so far

The CDC said they plan to roll out vaccine booster shots on Sept. 20. Here's what we know, and don't know, about vaccine boosters so far.

WACO, Texas — The Biden administration is now recommending vaccine booster shots and the CDC announced yesterday those boosters may be available as soon as Sept. 20. 

6 News spoke with Waco-McLennan County Epidemiologist Vaidehi Shah to find out what health officials know about the vaccine booster shots so far.

Who is eligible for the vaccine booster?

The CDC said a person could receive the shot starting eight months after their second dose. By Sept. 20,  many health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. 

What vaccine brands will be available?

The CDC currently plans to have the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines available, pending their evaluation by the FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

A Johnson and Johnson vaccine booster shot will not be available at that time, as it was not available in the U.S. until March 2021. The CDC said it will have more data on the J&J vaccine "in the next few weeks." 

Will people be required to get the same vaccine brand? 

Epidemiologist Vaidehi Shah told 6 News the CDC still highly recommends getting the same brand of vaccine, even if the person had symptoms with the last dose.

Shah said there is not enough data out yet on the effects of using multiple vaccine brands.

"We do not have enough studies to show whether mixing and matching is a good idea or not and we want to make sure that the general public is as protected as possible," Shah said. "If it is possible to take the same brand, take the same brand."

If a person did have a severe reaction to the vaccine, however, Vaidehi said they should talk to their doctor about making an exception to this.

Does the CDC recommend that everyone get a booster shot?

We don't know yet. The CDC said yesterday: "We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall subject to FDA conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence."

Vaidehi said this means there is still no official CDC recommendation on whether the public should get the booster shot or not and local health officials will need to wait for that guidance. The guidance should be available by Sept. 20.

Will the booster shot be identical to previous Pfizer or Moderna doses?

Vaidehi said health officials still don't know if the booster shot will contain the exact same dose amount or type at this time.

Are some people with certain conditions allowed to get a booster shot right now?

Not exactly. Vaidehi said the CDC recommends people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna four weeks after their second shot. This third dose would be the exact same shot those individuals received before twice before and is not technically a booster shot.

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