More patients are now eligible to receive an added layer of protection against COVID-19.
Based on new data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommend a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for a new group of patients — those ages 5-11.
The CDC says data continues to show the importance of vaccination and booster doses to protect people of all ages from infection, severe illness and death from COVID-19.
For adults, adolescents, and children eligible for a first booster dose, these shots are safe and provide substantial benefit, according to the CDC. In fact, the agency reports, those who were boosted were 21 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated, and seven times less likely to be hospitalized during the recent omicron surge.
The CDC continues to recommend that all eligible adults, adolescents, and children aged 6 months and older be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes getting an initial booster when eligible. Sanford Health patients will get a notification from their My Sanford Chart account when they are due for another vaccination.
Following the FDA’s May 17 action to authorize a first booster dose for children ages 5-11, the following groups now qualify for a booster dose, whether it’s a patient’s first or second, to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19:
- Children age 5 and up, at least five months after their second dose
- People with moderately or severely weakened immune systems
- People over age 50, at least four months after an initial booster dose
- Adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine at least four months ago
These updated recommendations acknowledge the higher risk of severe disease in certain people, including older adults, and people over the age of 50 with multiple underlying conditions, the CDC noted in its announcement.
Jeffry Meyer, M.D., a Sanford Health family medicine specialist, said providers have been seeing more breakthrough cases — meaning individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may still contract the illness. However, because of previous vaccinations, many of the cases “are quite mild.”
“But for some people who are at high risk, it could not be so mild. So, a booster shot would seem to help prevent that,” said Dr. Meyer. The majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated individuals, he added.
Dave Munson, former mayor of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, received a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine in September. He said he decided on the booster shot because he wants to make sure he, and everyone, stays as safe as possible.
“It’s to try and protect all of the people in society. I think that’s the important part we want to look at. It’s not just me. Yes, it’s going to protect me, but hopefully I’m not a carrier where I spread it someplace else. I’d hate to do it,” said Munson.
“I’ve read cases where people haven’t had the vaccines, and then they’ve gotten the virus and it’s not a pretty picture,” he added.
Low risk, high reward
Munson said he respects each person’s individual choice, but he’s hopeful unvaccinated individuals will soon decide to become vaccinated.
“You’re going to be fine. You’re going to be fine. There’s really nothing to it. It’s the simplest thing you can do. I think for trying to slow down the horrific (virus), I think it really helps you.
“If you have to go back annually, who cares. I’d go annually anytime to do it. I think the benefits outweigh any negativity that they talk about,” he said.
Schedule your shot
Dr. Meyer said Sanford Health has “plenty” of vaccine. He said there was some road bumps early in 2021 with vaccine availability, but the health care system is equipped to offer shots to any patient.
“We have multiple locations that patients can get it at. All of our clinics have it. Many of the pharmacies have it,” he said.
You can schedule an appointment for your COVID-19 vaccination at Sanford Health whether you are a current patient or not. COVID-19 vaccines are offered without an appointment at select locations.
Information in this story was accurate when it was posted. As the COVID-19 pandemic changes, scientific understanding and guidelines may have changed since the original publication date.
- Carry your COVID-19 vaccination card on your phone
- Health and Wellness podcast: Infectious disease specialist talks COVID-19
- COVID-19 vaccine: Separating myths from facts