DOVER — Delaware’s COVID-19 vaccine providers can begin administering booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to certain populations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state Division of Public Health announced Friday.
Individuals 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50-plus who have underlying medical conditions should be offered a booster once they’re six months past their second Pfizer dose, based on CDC recommendations.
Other adults — people aged 18–49 with underlying medical conditions and those aged 18-64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional settings — can decide for themselves if they want a booster once they reach that six-month mark. Those settings include health care workers, teachers, day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others, DPH said.
Underlying medical conditions, according to DPH, include but are not limited to cancer; chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases; dementia; diabetes; Down syndrome; HIV; obesity; pregnancy; organ transplantation; and stroke. Those 18-64 with one or more of those conditions should decide if they want the booster based on their individual benefits and risk.
Boosters are not yet authorized for people who received either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as there is not adequate data to include them at this time.
Vaccine providers in Delaware may begin administering booster doses of Pfizer as soon as they are able, per DPH.
“We are very confident that we have enough vaccine to meet the needs of individuals who meet the criteria for a booster, as vaccine capacity is now very different than it was when COVID-19 vaccines first became available,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “With that said, it may take some time to offer boosters to everyone who qualifies. We are focusing intently on protecting Delaware’s most vulnerable, and we encourage everyone to consider their own situation when heading out to receive their booster in the next few weeks.”
The booster news in the First State came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally voted Wednesday to expand the emergency use authorization to allow for a booster dose of Pfizer for certain populations. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met Thursday to provide additional guidance on who should receive a booster dose under the EUA and endorsed FDA’s recommendation.
According to CDC, while data shows that vaccines remain effective in preventing hospitalization and severe disease, a booster shot will help provide continued protection against serious symptoms in certain populations who are especially at risk for acute COVID-19, including those over 65, residents of long-term care facilities and persons 50-64 with underlying health conditions. DPH said it is encouraging individuals in these most at-risk categories to seek boosters first.
Members of the public who are eligible for booster shots are recommended to get them at existing vaccine sites, including pharmacies, health care providers, federally qualified health centers and standing DPH vaccine sites at:
A full list of vaccination sites is available here.
A total of 1,158,602 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Delaware as of Thursday at 6 p.m., and 59.9% of the state’s population has received at least one dose.
“While making booster shots available is an important move, DPH’s focus continues to be getting more Delawareans fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Rattay. “With only half of the state’s population fully vaccinated, we still have a long way to go.”
DPH also issued a reminder that Delawareans who have certain immunocompromising conditions — including those who have received organ or stem cell transplants, are undergoing treatment for HIV or cancer, or who are taking medication that suppresses the immune system — are currently eligible to receive a “third dose” of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if they completed their second dose at least 28 days prior. These third doses differ from boosters.
DPH said it 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 a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna. These factors may include assessing patients who reside in a long-term care facility or patients of advanced age, especially those over age 85.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.