DOVER — Delaware’s COVID-19 vaccine providers can begin administering booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to the populations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delaware Division of Public Health announced Friday.
This decision comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally gave its approval Wednesday to expand the emergency use authorization to allow booster doses for Moderna and J&J vaccines.
FDA also gave EUA approval to permit providers to administer boosters of any vaccine brand to individuals, regardless of the brand they originally received. Based on this decision, DPH is also advising that any of the three authorized vaccines can be administered to qualifying individuals as a booster in a “mix-and-match” approach to the vaccine originally received.
Pfizer’s vaccine received booster authorization from FDA and CDC last month.
Based on CDC recommendations for individuals who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot six months or more after their initial series:
For individuals who received the J&J vaccine, booster shots are recommended for those who are 18 or older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.
For convenience, eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose thanks to the “mix-and-match” CDC recommendation.
According to CDC, while data shows that vaccines remain effective in preventing hospitalization and serious illness, a booster shot will help provide continued protection against severe disease in these populations who are especially at risk, including those over 65, residents of long-term care facilities and persons 18-64 with underlying health conditions.
DPH said it encourages individuals in these most at-risk categories to seek booster vaccines first.
“Not surprisingly, we have seen signs that the vaccine wanes over time and getting a booster is key to increasing protection against severe disease and death,” said DPH director Dr. Karyl Rattay in a statement Friday. “Now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal. Those who are eligible should get their booster, and those who are not yet vaccinated should make this their number one priority.”
“We really recommend people take advantage of the fact that there’s a lot of really good access now,” Dr. Rattay said at a vaccination clinic last weekend. “So many pharmacies are providing the vaccines. So as soon as you can, get your COVID booster if you’re eligible and get your flu shot, too.”
DPH also issued a reminder that Delawareans who have certain immunocompromising conditions — including those who have received organ or stem cell transplants, who are undergoing treatment for HIV or cancer, or who are taking medication that suppresses the immune system — are currently eligible to receive an additional dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if they completed their second dose at least 28 days prior.
DPH encourages providers to use their clinical judgment and to consider additional factors for their patients when determining if the person meets the qualifications for immunocompromised status and is eligible for an a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna. These factors may include assessing patients who reside in long-term care facilities or patients of advanced age (especially those over 85).