COVID-19 Update: Boosters Endorsed by CDC

Situation Report | September 27, 2021 

Booster Shots 

On September 24, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed boosters of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for long term care residents and others 65 and older, healthcare workers and those with underlying medical conditions that could put them at risk. 

The CDC said the shots could begin six months after a person received the last of two Pfizer injections. 

This action was contrary to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) which, on September 23, had voted against recommending boosters for healthcare workers. ACIP had voted to recommend booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adults aged 65 or more years as well as those living in long-term care facilities, and for individuals aged 1850 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. 

The number of Americans who will qualify includes only those who already received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. ACIP was not asked to judge whether people who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should receive booster shots, which have not been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

The CDC Director’s decision was aligned with the FDA which, on September 22, amended the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose, to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series in: 

  • individuals 65 years of age and older; 
  • individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19; and  
  • individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19. 

The FDA advisory panel voted against approving a booster shot for the general population. 

This authorization applies only to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. 

CMS Payment 

On September 24, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it will provide coverage for booster doses, without cost sharing for Medicare beneficiaries. 

CMS also announced that nearly all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries must receive coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and their administration, without cost-sharing. COVID-19 vaccines and their administration, including boosters, will also be covered without cost-sharing for eligible consumers of most issuers of health insurance in the commercial market. 

More information regarding the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Requirements and how the COVID-19 vaccine is provided through that program at no cost to recipients is available on the CDC website and through the CMS COVID-19 Provider Toolkit. 

DOH Publication 

The state Department of Health (DOH) released a one-page document, “Top Ten Reasons To Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19.” The document is available in both English and Spanish, and can be used in education efforts to encourage workers to obtain the vaccine.