What to Know About The COVID-19 Booster Vaccine

by Katherine Zhu ‘25

Source: VOA News

Published Oct. 16th, 2021

On September 22, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for a booster shot. The shot was initially approved a month earlier, on August 23, 2021.

The Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine was first authorized for individuals who were 16 years of age or older in December of 2020, prioritizing senior citizens and frontline workers. The authorization was later expanded to include anyone above the age of 12.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is administered as a series of two doses given three weeks apart.

The booster shot however is a single dose of the vaccine which will be administered at least six months after the original two doses. As of now, the booster shot is only available to those above the age of 65, or who are between the ages of 18-64 and are either in high exposure environments or who are at high risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Vaccines protect us against viruses by training our immune systems to produce antibodies, and receiving multiple doses of a vaccine strengthens that protection. Although the original COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, it loses some of its strength over time. The booster vaccine helps by increasing the amount of antibodies produced by our immune systems.

Janet Woodcock, the Acting FDA Commissioner, said, “This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day. As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed.”

President Joe Biden, who is 78 years old, once again voiced his support for the vaccine. He received the booster shot on September 27, 2021. Like his previous two doses of the vaccine, this one was broadcasted publicly. Biden has stated that he hasn’t experienced any negative side effects. In the broadcast, he also said, “Please, please do the right thing. Please get the shot. It can save your life. It can save the lives of those around you. And it’s easy, accessible, and it’s free.”