The Delaware Division of Public Health announced Oct. 22 that Delaware’s vaccine providers can begin administering booster doses for vaccines made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to certain populations that have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, which received booster authorization last month. DPH also said that any of the three authorized boosters can be mixed and matched.
This decision comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally approved expanding the Emergency Use Authorization to allow for a booster dose of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The FDA gave EUA approval to permit medical providers to administer boosters of any vaccine brand to individuals regardless of which vaccine they originally received. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose, officials said.
“Today’s announcement is great news in the fight against COVID-19. Not surprisingly, we have seen signs that the vaccine wanes over time, and getting a booster is key to increasing protection against severe disease and death,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal. Those who are eligible should get their booster, and those who are not yet vaccinated should make this their No. 1 priority.”
Based on CDC recommendations for individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot six months or more after their initial series:
- People 65 years and older
- People aged 18 and older who live in long-term care settings
- People 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions, which include cancer, chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases, dementia, diabetes, Down syndrome, HIV, overweight and obesity, pregnancy, organ transplants, and stroke
- People 18 and older who work or live in high-risk settings, including healthcare workers, teachers and daycare staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others.
Delawareans who have certain immunocompromising conditions, including those who have received organ or stem cell transplants, are undergoing treatment for HIV or cancer, or who are taking medication that suppresses the immune system, are currently eligible to receive an additional dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if they completed their second dose at least 28 days prior.
For individuals who received 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.
DPH encourages providers to use their clinical judgment and to consider additional factors for their patients when determining if the person meets the qualifications for immunocompromised status and is eligible for an additional/third dose of Pfizer or Moderna. These factors may include assessing patients who reside in a long-term care facility or patients of advanced age, especially those over age 85.
According to the CDC, data show vaccines remain effective in preventing hospitalization and severe disease, but a booster shot will help provide continued protection against severe disease in these populations that are especially at risk for severe COVID-19, including those over 65, residents of long-term care facilities, and persons 18-64 with underlying health conditions. DPH is encouraging individuals in these most at-risk categories to seek booster vaccines first.
COVID-19 vaccine providers in Delaware may begin administering booster doses immediately or as soon as they are able. Those who are eligible for a booster shot are recommended to seek vaccines at existing vaccine sites, including pharmacies, healthcare providers, Federally Qualified Health Centers (for patients), and standing DPH vaccine sites, which include Georgetown Plaza, 19 Georgetown Plaza, Georgetown, and the Blue Hen Corporate Center, 655 S. Bay Road, Dover.
For a complete list of locations where vaccines are available, visit de.gov/getmyvaccine.