Millions of more Americans may become eligible to receive boosters after a federal advisory committee voted last week to support additional shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
Last week, the FDA's advisory panel – called the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee – voted unanimously to support boosters of the Moderna vaccines for a limited population. That same committee voted unanimously to support a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Friday.
The FDA followed suit this week by giving authorization for the other two manufacturers' shots and adding a "mix and match" option.
About 15 million adults in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated with the one-dose J&J vaccine, compared with 103 million who’ve gotten Pfizer and 69 million who’ve gotten Moderna, both of which have a two-dose regimen. So far, 8.8 million Americans have received a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Biden administration said it has pre-purchased enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine to continue to provide them at no cost to Americans.
Here’s who is expected to be eligible for booster doses of all three vaccines.
Will everyone need a COVID booster?
It's unclear if everyone will need a booster at some point in the future after recent data suggested immunity from the vaccines may be waning, but for now, not every American is eligible to get one.
The FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech booster doses for people 65 and older and those whose jobs put them at high risk for exposure to COVID-19.
VRBPAC voted Thursday to support booster shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for the same group as those who received the Pfizer vaccine: people 65 and up, and younger adults with certain medical problems or jobs that put them at increased risk for infection.
The federal advisory panel said the J&J vaccine should be considered a two-dose vaccine rather than the one dose that received initial authorization. This means that everybody who got the "one-and-done" J&J shot will be eligible for a second dose.
Where to get COVID booster shot for Pfizer-BioNTech?
Booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are available at major pharmacies and grocery stores, hospitals and doctor's offices across the nation.
CVS and Walgreens announced shortly after authorization they were offering Pfizer boosters to those who are eligible. However, the pharmacy chains said they weren’t taking extra steps to police eligibility to “remove barriers and improve access to potentially life-saving vaccines,” leaving room for dishonesty.
Individuals 18 and up who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 were also included in the authorization, which only covers those who are at least six months out from their second dose of the vaccine.
High-risk jobs include "health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” said acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock.
More than 20 million Americans are eligible for Pfizer booster shots, and 40 million more will have access once they're six months past their second shot.
Is the Moderna booster available?
People who are immunocompromised because of an organ transplant, cancer treatment, medication or similar situation can already get a full third dose of the Moderna vaccine.
The booster shot – which will be a half-dose of the vaccine – was authorized by the FDA for seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 because of their health problems, jobs or living conditions, six months after their last shot.
People with high-risk jobs may include health care workers, grocery store clerks and others who are potentially exposed to COVID-19 doing their work.
Is the Johnson & Johnson booster available?
VRBPAC felt the 15 million Americans who got a single dose of the "one and done" J&J vaccine would be substantially better protected with a second one. The committee voted unanimously to support a “booster” of the J&J shot at least two months after the initial dose was given.
The FDA said all U.S. recipients should get a second dose at least two months following their initial vaccination
Adding a second dose two- to six-months after the initial J&J shot would provide the same effectiveness as the mRNA vaccines without their fading protection, said Dr. Penny Heaton, head of the vaccines global therapeutic area for Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company that developed the vaccine.
Can you mix and match vaccines?
The FDA on Wednesday signed off on eligible Americans getting extra doses of vaccines from manufacturers other than their original vaccines.
The move will make it simpler for many to get extra doses, particularly if they had side effects from their initial vaccination and want to try a different brand.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Who is eligible for COVID booster? Here's who can get them and where.