COVID vaccine booster shots are now available for millions of eligible residents, but where can you get them?
The CDC last week endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday it is adopting the CDC's recommendations for eligible people to receive a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Illinois.
“While the vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing severe illnesses, hospitalization, death, as we learn more about COVID-19 and the science evolves, so too must our recommendations,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a statement.
The department said it "recommends vaccine providers prioritize those at highest risk of severe illness among the eligible booster population."
Walgreens and CVS are now offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all eligible people, the companies announced Friday.
The pharmacy chains said booster shots will now be available in stores nationwide following announcements from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Eligible people can now schedule appointments at Walgreens for their booster shots, along with additional immunizations such as the flu shot, here, or by calling 1-800-Walgreens. New patients will be required to verify their eligibility, the company said.
The Kane County Health Department reported it will now provide Pfizer COVID vaccine booster shots at the Kane Vax Hub in Batavia.
DuPage County and cities like Evanston urged residents who are eligible for the booster dose to visit www.vaccines.gov to find their nearest vaccine provider.
Evanston officials also said they will provide booster doses to eligible individuals at weekly vaccination clinics beginning in October.
Under the CDC's endorsement, boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. Also added to the list were people ages 18 to 64 years who are health-care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of being exposed to the virus.
The FDA had already authorized booster doses for Americans who are 65 and older, younger adults with underlying health conditions and those in jobs that put them at high risk for COVID-19.
The booster dose must be given at least six months past the second Pfizer shot. Those who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not yet eligible.
Here's the latest list of who qualifies, according to the CDC:
- 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 6 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 atleast 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, and
- 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.
What counts as a qualifying underlying health condition? Here's a list from the CDC:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic lung diseases, including COPD, asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
- Dementia or other neurological conditions
- Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
- Down syndrome
- Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
- HIV infection
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
- Liver disease
- Overweight and obesity
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Smoking, current or former
- Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
- Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
- Substance use disorders
President Joe Biden on Friday urged those who are now eligible to get a booster shot.
"My message today is this: If you've got the Pfizer vaccine, you got the Pfizer vaccine in January, February, or March of this year, and you're over 65 years of age, go get the booster," he said. "Or if you have a medical condition like diabetes, or you're a frontline worker like a health care worker or teacher, you can get a free booster now."
The U.S. has also already approved both Pfizer and Moderna boosters for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients.
According to the CDC, the list includes people who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
The agency notes that "people should talk to their healthcare provider about their medical condition, and whether getting an additional dose is appropriate for them."
The FDA and CDC’s approval and recommendation for immunocompromised individuals does not apply to those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.