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CDC endorses COVID vaccine booster for all Americans 18 and over

Fully vaccinated still means two doses of vaccine

November 22, 2021 625

Quick Summary:

The CDC says "everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are 6 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their initial J&J vaccine." Although the booster shot is highly recommended for protection from hospitalization and severe COVID-19 illness, “fully vaccinated” is still currently defined as two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Dentist employers in California can encourage, but not require, staff to receive the booster.

Dec. 1 update: CDC strengthens booster recommendation

With the expected arrival of the omicron coronavirus variant in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 29 strengthened its recommendation on booster doses for individuals who are ages 18 and older. Now, the CDC says "everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are 6 months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after their initial J&J vaccine."

In its earlier recommendation Nov. 19, the CDC recommended the booster for individuals 18 and over, and "strongly recommended" it for older and medically vulnerable individuals but stopped short of stating individuals "should" receive the booster.

"The recent emergence of the omicron variant further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19," the news release states.

The California Department of Public Health confirmed the first detected case of the omnicron variant on Dec. 1. 

Nov. 22: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 19 endorsed coronavirus booster shots for all American adults and expanded its recommendation for booster shots to include individuals ages 18 and older who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine at least six months after receiving their second dose. 

The CDC said it strongly encourages “those who were already eligible ― older populations and individuals with underlying medical conditions ― to get boosted before the holidays.”

More families are traveling and getting together for the holidays this year, but COVID-19 cases are increasing again nationally and in most states. In California as of Nov. 20, most counties were averaging 10-25 daily cases per 100,000 people while “hot spots” like Kern, King and Tuolumne counties had much higher daily cases. In Santa Cruz County, a spike in cases and hospitalizations led officials to reinstate an indoor mask mandate on Nov. 21.

'Protection against infection and severe outcomes'

“Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people’s protection against infection and severe outcomes and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, in a statement. “Based on the compelling evidence, all adults over 18 should now have equitable access to a COVID-19 booster dose.”

Some individuals may experience side effects from the booster for a few days, even if they did not have side effects after receiving their initial doses. The CDC states minor side effects are “normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19” and that serious side effects are “extremely unlikely.”

The CDC’s endorsement on Friday follows the FDA’s full authorization, also on Friday, of the booster shot of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals ages 18 and older who completed initial vaccination with any FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine were cleared to receive a booster shot in October.

Fully vaccinated still means two doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Although the booster shot is highly recommended for protection from hospitalization and severe COVID-19 illness, “fully vaccinated” is still currently defined as two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dentist employers in California can encourage staff to receive the booster but cannot require staff to receive the booster or submit to weekly testing in compliance with the state mandate for health care workers that took effect Aug. 23. CDA published resources, including a self-certification of employee vaccination status and sample COVID-19 policy, to help members comply with the state mandate.

If an employee does get the booster shot, employers can note it in the employee's confidential personnel record along with other vaccine documentation. 

The California Department of Public Health states that boosters are available through health care providers, clinics and pharmacies and that individuals can visit MyTurn or call 833.422.4255 to make an appointment or find a walk-in vaccine clinic.

Staff training, FAQ, talking points available to CDA members

CDA’s Vaccine Confidence Toolkit provides resources dentists can use in their daily interactions with patients and staff. Resources include:

  • Patient email template about the safety and importance of vaccination
  • Review of the COVID-19 vaccine development and approval process
  • Communication strategies and talking points to instill vaccine confidence
  • Vaccine awareness buttons, fact sheets and flyers
  • Displayable posters in English and Spanish from the CDC

CDA will keep members informed about booster and related developments through the newsroom.