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COVID-19 Vaccine Booster: Update From Johns Hopkins Medicine

October 22, 2021 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending COVID-19 boosters or additional doses for individuals who meet certain criteria. Johns Hopkins Medicine is reviewing the new criteria and will update our information about giving boosters and additional doses in the next few days.

Johns Hopkins Medicine is currently only offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster to eligible patients and a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to patients with certain medical conditions associated with immunosuppression. Booster and third-dose appointments are limited.

We appreciate your patience.

Pfizer Booster Shots

Eligible patients are individuals who received their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago and meet at least one of the below criteria:

  • Are age 65 or older 
  • Live in a long-term care facility 
  • Are age 18 or older and have an underlying medical condition that could put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19. Eligible medical conditions include, but are not limited to: 
    • Cancer 
    • Cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke  
    • Obesity 
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
    • Diabetes mellitus, type 1 and 2 
    • Heart condition, such as heart failure, coronary arteries disease, or cardiomyopathies 
    • Chronic kidney disease 
    • Pregnancy and recent pregnancy 
    • Current or former smoker 
  • Are age 18 or older and work in a location that puts them at high risk of exposure to COVID-19. This includes:  
    • Essential workers, such as healthcare workers, teachers, day-care staff, and first responders 
    • Caregivers of an immunocompromised individual 
    • Individuals who live in a congregate living setting, such as a homeless shelter, prison, or assisted living facility

The amended FDA authorization and updated CDC recommendation apply only to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Additionally, individuals who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and have a medical condition associated with immunosuppression are eligible to receive a third dose of the same vaccine brand they previously received.

The FDA has not yet authorized a booster for those who received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine or those who received the Moderna vaccine and who are not immunosuppressed.

Other information recommended by the CDC to keep in mind about a COVID-19 booster if you meet the criteria above:

  • You can get a COVID-19 booster dose any time six months or later after your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Getting a booster shot too early may reduce its effectiveness.
  • The Pfizer booster is currently only available to those who received earlier shots of Pfizer.
  • Flu vaccines can be given within any timeframe of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
  • While there is limited data on side effects of an additional COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC reports that so far, reactions to third doses given to those with underlying conditions are similar to the original two-dose series: fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects. Other side effects similar to those from the two-dose series may occur, including rare but serious ones.
  • The booster should not be given within 90 days of receiving monoclonal antibody treatment (Regeneron) for COVID-19.

Schedule a COVID-19 booster vaccine

Eligible patients are encouraged to visit retail pharmacies and local and state resources to learn where they can get a booster.

Johns Hopkins Medicine has limited booster appointments. Johns Hopkins Medicine patients may schedule a COVID-19 vaccine booster at select vaccination clinics starting on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Schedule your COVID-19 booster online using MyChart

  1. Log into MyChart.
  2. Select “Visits” from the top left navigation bar, then click on “Schedule an Appointment.”
  3. Find the section titled “Tell us why you’re coming in.” Select “COVID-19 Vaccine.”
  4. Answer questions to confirm your initial vaccination doses and qualifying age, conditions or occupation.
  5. Follow the prompts to select your booster location, date and time.

If you do not see any available appointments, please check again in the coming days. We will update MyChart as appointments are made available.

Eligible individuals who do not have a MyChart account or have difficulties scheduling a booster appointment through MyChart can call 443-997-1875, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for assistance. You will be asked questions to verify your initial vaccination doses and eligibility.

Based on earlier guidance from the CDC and FDA, we are also offering third doses to patients who received either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and meet the immunosuppressed criteria.

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