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Edward-Elmhurst Health System Clears Up Confusion Regarding COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

WARRENVILLE, Ill., Oct. 4, 2021 -- To date, 185 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with one of three vaccines: the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccine, or the one-shot Janssen (J&J) vector vaccine.

In August 2021, research found immunocompromised people don't always build the same level of immunity after two mRNA vaccine doses like those with healthy immune systems do.

A third dose was added to the initial vaccination series for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. The third shot applies to the mRNA vaccines and is recommended at least four weeks (28 days) after the second dose.

Now, what about a COVID-19 booster shot?

With many people several months out from being fully vaccinated, experts recommend booster shots to stay protected. In September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose for certain adults at least six months after full vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine.

What is a booster dose and why is it needed?

"The Pfizer booster dose is essentially a third vaccine dose," says Jonathan Pinsky, M.D., medical director of infection control and prevention at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., part of the Edward-Elmhurst Health system in suburban Chicago. "Research suggests that the level of virus-fighting antibodies starts to wane several months after getting the vaccine. Research also suggests that with each new dose, the body makes higher quality antibodies that are better at blocking new variants."

Who is eligible for a booster right now?

Currently, booster shots are only available for Pfizer vaccine recipients who completed their vaccination series at least 6 months ago and are:

  • Age 65 and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

"As more data become available, additional populations may be recommended for a booster shot," says Dr. Pinsky.

What about a booster dose for the Moderna or Janssen (J&J) vaccines?

More data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J booster shots are expected soon. it's estimated that a booster shot will be needed for these products as well.

Learn more at

SOURCE Edward-Elmhurst Health System