The CDC has approved a booster for the Pfizer vaccine in certain circumstances, including based on age and underlying conditions. After differing recommendations from the FDA and a CDC advisory panel, the official recommendations for the coronavirus vaccine are finally available. But which underlying medical conditions do you need in order to qualify for a vaccine? Here are the details.
The White House noted that more booster recommendations are expected in the future. The administration noted on Facebook: “This is the first group of people eligible, and FDA and CDC will continue to evaluate data over the coming weeks and make determinations for additional populations going forward, including people who got Moderna and J&J.”
The Pfizer Booster Is Approved for Specific Conditions
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky revealed the decision, which broke with an advisory recommendation that wanted booster approval for a narrower group, Reuters reported. The panel was concerned about heart inflammation, a rare side effect in young men, and difficulties with rolling out a booster. Ultimately, Walensky decided to go with a rollout that more closely aligned with the FDA’s recommendations versus the CDC advisory panel’s.
The CDC updated its website and noted:
CDC now recommends that people aged 65 years and older, residents in long-term care settings, and people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series. Other groups may receive a booster shot based on their individual risk and benefit.
- Ages 65 and older
- Residents in long-term care settings
- Ages 50-64 with underlying medical conditions
You can receive a Pfizer booster six months or more after your second Pfizer dose if you weigh the risks fall in one of the following categories. People in these categories are not being told they should receive a booster, but that they can receive one if they weigh the risks and decide they want one.
- Ages 18-49 with underlying conditions
- Ages 18-64 and at increased risk due to occupational or institutional settings
People will not be required to submit documentation to prove risk, Reuters reported.
Here Are the Underlying Medical Conditions that Qualify
The CDC has listed on its website which underlying medical conditions it believes put people at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Under its official statement about Pfizer boosters, the CDC linked to this webpage which lists underlying medical conditions that qualify.
The underlying conditions in adults that put you at greater risk for severe COVID include:
Treatments can weaken your ability to fight off disease. The CDC notes: “At this time, based on available studies, having a history of cancer may increase your risk.”
Chronic Kidney Disease
Any stage of chronic kidney disease puts you at greater risk, the CDC noted.
Chronic Lung Diseases
The CDC said these include COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma (moderate to severe), damaged or scarred lung tissue such as interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension.
Dementia & Other Neurological Conditions
The CDC also lists Alzheimer’s as a risk factor.
Either Type 1 or Type 2 can put you at greater risk.
These can include heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and “possibly high blood pressure (hypertension),” the CDC noted.
Any immunocompromised state or a weakened immune system can put you at greater risk. It can be genetically inherited or be an acquired or secondary immunodeficiency caused by prolonged use of certain medicines like corticosteroids, the CDC noted.
Chronic liver disease can put you at greater risk, the CDC noted, including liver scarring, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease like cirrhosis, or alcohol-related liver disease.
Being Obese or Overweight
Being obese or overweight are also risk factors. You’re overweight if your BMI is greater than or equal to 25 and you’re obese if your BMI is greater than 30. You’re severely obese if your BMI is greater than 40.
Pregnancy is another risk factor.
Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
Hemoglobin blood disorders are also risk factors, the CDC noted.
You’re at greater risk if you’re a current or even former cigarette smoker, the CDC explained.
If you’ve had a blood stem cell transplant, bone marrow transplant, or a solid organ transplant, then you’re in a higher risk category.
Stroke or cerebrovascular disease
If you’ve had a stroke, cerebrovascular disease, or another condition that affects the blood flow to your brain, then you’re at greater risk.
Substance abuse disorder
If you have a substance abuse disorder, then you’re at greater risk, the CDC noted. This can include alcohol, opioids, cocaine, or other substances.
Which Underlying Conditions Put Children at Greater Risk?
The CDC reported about children and underlying conditions:
Children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness compared to children without underlying medical conditions. Current evidence on which underlying medical conditions in children are associated with increased risk is limited. Current evidence suggests that children with medical complexity, with genetic, neurologic, metabolic conditions, or with congenital heart disease can be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Similar to adults, children with obesity, diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease, or immunosuppression can also be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
It should be noted that the Pfizer booster is not recommended for anyone under 18.