By Todd R. Hansen
Anyone 18 or older who fits into a collection of health categories can now receive a COVID-19 booster shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday expanded the eligibility list of those 18 or older who live in long-term care facilities, who have underlying medical conditions and those who live in high-risk settings.
The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration also have approved all vaccines types – Pfizer-BioNTech, Maderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen – for use as boosters, and they can be mixed.
It is advised that anyone who had the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series wait at least six months before getting the booster. The waiting period for Johnson & Johnson is two months.
The medical conditions for eligibility include cancer, chronic kidney disease, liver or lung disease, those who have dementia, diabetes, Down syndrome, heart disease, HIV infection, those who are immunocompromised, obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease or thalassemia, stroke or cerebrovascular disease, and tuberculosis.
Current and former smokers are eligible, as are those who have substance abuse disorders and those who have had solid organ or blood cell stem cell transplants, Anyone with mental health conditions such as depression and other mood disorders, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders also are eligible for the boosters.
High-risk settings include first responders: health care workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff; education staff: teachers, support staff, day care workers; food and agriculture workers; manufacturing workers and corrections workers. U.S. postal workers, public transit workers and grocery store workers also are included.
Most people who have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, experience only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health problems, experience more severe illness such as pneumonia and at times, death.
The delta variant of the virus, which is currently dominant in the U.S., is highly transmissible with indications that asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that unvaccinated people who contract the delta variant of the virus are 11 times more likely to die from the disease as those who are vaccinated.
The vast majority of people who contract the disease, however, do recover.