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Pfizer's COVID-19 booster approved for health care workers

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Health care workers who received the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 at least six months ago are among those who qualify for a booster dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On Sept. 24, the CDC released its new recommendations, which include endorsement of its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in certain populations. The CDC also recommends a booster dose for people in high risk occupational and institutional settings. This includes health care workers.

The CDC recommends the following people receive a booster:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series
  • People aged 50-64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series
  • People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, explained that many of the people who are now eligible to receive a booster shot received their initial Pfizer vaccine early in the vaccination program and will benefit from additional protection.

"With the Delta variant’s dominance as the circulating strain and cases of COVID-19 increasing significantly across the United States, a booster shot will help strengthen protection against severe disease in those populations who are at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19 or the complications from severe disease," says Dr. Walensky.

A booster dose is not yet authorized for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The CDC will continue to evaluate data and make additional recommendations for additional populations and people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the future.

With this announcement from the CDC and authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA), Pfizer booster doses will be offered to colleagues who completed the primary Pfizer series at least six months ago. The Pfizer boosters will be given as part of the vaccination clinics at Nebraska Medical Center, with the next clinic taking place on Wednesday, Sept. 29. Advance scheduling is required for the Nebraska Medical Center clinics and can be completed here. You only need to sign up for one appointment time, regardless if you are receiving one or both vaccines. The COVID-19 boosters will take place in lower Storz Pavilion; influenza vaccine will be given upstairs in the ground level Storz Pavilion. More information on the on-site clinics and other options for receiving your influenza vaccination is available here.

Nebraska Medicine also will administer Pfizer booster doses to patients who meet the criteria set by the CDC. Patients can set up an appointment online, through their One Chart | Patient portal or through the Nebraska Medicine app. Walk-in vaccines also are available at the Pharmacy at Lauritzen Outpatient Center. More information is available at NebraskaMed.com/Vaccine.

'Health care personnel'

The CDC defines health care personnel as follows: all paid and unpaid persons serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials, including body substances (e.g., blood, tissue, and specific body fluids); contaminated medical supplies, devices, and equipment; contaminated environmental surfaces; or contaminated air. These HCP may include, but are not limited to, emergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, students and trainees, contractual staff not employed by the health care facility, and persons (e.g., clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, maintenance, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing and volunteer personnel) not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted among from HCP and patients. 

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