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Public Health

Yesterday evening, the CDC endorsed the recommendation from its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and expanded eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to those who previously received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine were already eligible for a booster dose. The decision also allows people to mix-and-match vaccine brands for their booster dose.

“COVID-19 vaccines continue to be safe and are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death. Effectiveness is waning against mild to moderate infection, which is why booster doses are recommended for certain individuals. People who are 65 or older, have an underlying health condition, or live or work in certain institutional or occupational settings are able to receive a booster dose,” said NDDoH Immunization Director Molly Howell. “People may choose which brand of vaccine they want to receive for the booster dose, providing flexibility and choice for North Dakotans as they take proactive steps to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.”

To date, 36,588 North Dakotans have already received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

For individuals who initially received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after their initial series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

For the nearly 27,475 North Dakotans who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and were vaccinated two or more months ago.

Booster doses for those who previously received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine may not be available until later next week. Health care providers will need to educate staff and update protocols based on this recommendation. The NDDoH has planned with long-term care facilities to ensure they have access to these booster doses in the coming weeks. As a reminder, people may be vaccinated against influenza at the same time as receiving a COVID-19 booster.

Next week, the U.S. FDA’s advisory committee will be discussing the authorization of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine for children ages 5 – 11. The NDDoH has already placed an order for 10,200 doses of this vaccine in anticipation of the pediatric vaccine being authorized and recommended. COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 – 11 could be available as soon as November 4, pending FDA authorization and CDC recommendations.

Currently, in North Dakota, those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are 5 times less likely to contract the virus, 5 times less likely to be hospitalized and 3 times less likely to die. Getting vaccinated continues to be safer than outcomes from COVID-19 illness.

Information on COVID-19 vaccine providers and clinics near you can be found on the NDDoH COVID Vaccine Locator page. Individuals can also contact the NDDoH public health hotline at 1-866-207-2880 for questions related to COVID-19 and for assistance in scheduling a vaccine appointment.

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