On Thursday, an expert panel unanimously recommended that the FDA approve a booster shot for certain groups of people who received two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. That thumbs-up clears the way for an official emergency use approval, although that hasn't happened yet; it's expected in the coming weeks. If the FDA gives Moderna boosters the OK, here's what you need to know. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Who Can Get the Moderna Booster, If It's Approved?
The same groups of people who are eligible for Pfizer booster shots, which have already been approved. Those groups include:
People over age 65
Younger adults at risk of severe COVID because of pre-existing medical conditions
Younger adults who live or work in long-term care facilities
Younger adults who are at risk for exposure through their workplace (such as educators, healthcare workers, and people who work in public-facing jobs)
When Can I Get the Moderna Booster?
The expert panel recommends getting the booster at least six months after getting your second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
That is the same timeline recommended for Pfizer's booster shots, which were approved on Sept. 22.
It's different from what the White House suggested earlier this year when announcing the booster shot initiative. Then, eight months was said to be the interval.
But officially—at least in Pfizer's case, and in what will probably be Moderna's—it's six months.
How Can I Get the Moderna Booster?
Talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Just like they offered the original vaccine, many pharmacies are administering booster shots. You can also find vaccine locations on the CDC's website; you can also call your local or state health department for information.
You might want to get a flu shot while you're at it—the CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months gets a flu shot annually. The agency now says it's safe to get the flu shot and the COVID vaccine at the same time. (Originally, they suggested waiting 14 days between the two but have revised that guidance.)
Why a Booster Shot Is Necessary
"Studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time and be less able to protect against the Delta variant," says the CDC.
"Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults aged 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggest vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms."
What a Booster Shot Can And Can't Do
Getting a booster shot doesn't guarantee you won't be infected with the coronavirus. But it can help your immune system develop a more robust response, so you'll be better protected against severe disease or hospitalization—including from the Delta variant, which is more contagious than original strains of the virus and is believed to cause more severe disease.
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.