The Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot is now available for health care workers, including dentists, who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
The CDC on Sept. 24 issued a recommendation for health care workers and frontline essential workers who are at increased risk of COVID-19 to receive the booster shot at least six months after receiving their first series of shots.
The CDC recommendation also includes people 65 years and older and people ages 18-49 who have underlying health conditions or live somewhere that puts them at increased risk of COVID-19.
Recent data suggests that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is decreasing over time among health care and frontline workers, according to the CDC. This is due in part to waning immunity and emerging variants that are more contagious, such as the delta variant.
The CDC reports that data from a small clinical trial show that a Pfizer booster shot increased immune response in participants who received their second vaccine dose six months earlier.
There have been no mandates issued for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot; however, health officials anticipate that vaccination requirements will eventually be amended to include a third dose as part of a new definition of “fully vaccinated.”
As of now, a person is still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-shot series of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after a single-dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
As of publication of this article, the FDA has not authorized a booster shot for individuals who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC says details about the distribution of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots will be released once they’ve received more information about the effectiveness and safety of the shots.
Practice owners who have implemented a mandatory vaccine policy or are located in a city or county that has a vaccine mandate are required to reimburse employees for their time and any out-of-pocket expenses related to the booster shot that are not covered by the employee’s health insurance.
Additionally, the practice owner must also provide onsite access to the booster shot or resources to assist employees in receiving the booster shot outside of work. If an employee receives the booster shot outside of work, payments should be billed to the employee’s health insurance carrier and submitted for reimbursement.
Practice owners should work with employees to schedule booster shots within an appropriate time frame that complies with mandatory vaccine policies.
CDA is working closely with local dental societies to offer quick and efficient ways for dentists and dental team members to receive the booster shot. As of now, dental teams should schedule their booster shot appointments through MyTurn.
CDA will keep members updated as more information about the booster shot becomes available. Resources and currently available information about the vaccine and booster shot are available in the Vaccine Confidence Toolkit.