The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that adults 50 and older receive a second COVID-19 booster shot.
"This is especially important for those 65 and older and those 50 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19 as they are the most likely to benefit from receiving an additional booster dose at this time," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky.
The FDA authorized a second booster from Pfizer and Moderna on Tuesday.
The amended emergency authorization says people 50 and older can get a second booster at least four months after receiving their first booster shot.
News 3 reporter Leondra Head spoke to people 50 and over about the additional booster shot.
"You use to be vaccinated for smallpox. So, at my age, if they say something is gonna help me out, I’m gonna see if I can get it," a woman over 70 years old said.
Others say they will be getting the second booster shot.
"I will as soon as it's available. I look to see what they advise, and I follow what they say," 56-year-old Ray Jenson said.
The second booster shot for the Pfizer vaccine is identical to all previous shots. Moderna’s second booster shot is half of the original dose.
Peoples Pharmacy in Norfolk will be administering the second booster shot for people 50 and over.
"We will begin as early as tomorrow morning. We had some people calling in today once they saw the news, and they are coming in first thing tomorrow morning, so we’ve already scheduled a couple of people tomorrow morning," Dr. Anna Peoples, the CEO of Peoples Pharmacy, tells News 3.
Doctors are encouraging individuals to get the vaccine before April 5, which is when federal funding for COVID vaccines for uninsured people ends.
"We are excited that they authorized the second booster shot is because after April 5, HRSA [the Health Resources and Services Administration] is no longer paying for the uninsured to receive any vaccines at all," Dr. Peoples said.
Riverside Health System and Sentara Healthcare say they will continue to provide COVID vaccines for those who are uninsured.
"We provide care regardless of an individual's ability to pay, so we would continue to work with those uninsured individuals," Dr. Cyndy Williams, the chief pharmacy officer for Riverside Health System, said.
The FDA also authorized a second booster of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 12 years of age and older who are immunocompromised. Moderna's second booster is approved for immunocompromised individuals 18 years of age and older.
“Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time against serious outcomes from COVID-19 in older and immunocompromised individuals. Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
According to the CDC, more than 97 million Americans have received a booster shot.
"CDC, in collaboration with FDA and our public health partners, will continue to evaluate the need for additional booster doses for all Americans," Walensky said.
VDH released the following statement in response to the updated guidance:
“VDH welcomes CDC’s updated guidance. This is not a blanket recommendation for everyone. Members of the general population who are staying up-to-date on their vaccine remain well protected from severe disease without a second booster. We want to provide the public with information so they can consult with their healthcare provider to make an informed choice to address their own level of personal risk. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen that the older you are or if you’re moderately or severely immunocompromised, the more you are at risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death if you contract COVID-19. There is ample supply of vaccine available in the state to ensure everyone eligible for a second booster will be able to get one.