A nervous Percy Jenkins is vaccinated as Miss USA Asya Branch chats with him to help calm his nerves. Jenkins and a few co-workers were brought by their boss to a free vaccination event held at New Horizon Church International in partnership with the Mississippi State Department of Health, Wednesday, August 4, 2021 in Jackson. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were available to those 12 years of age and older. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Tens of thousands of Mississippians who are at the highest risk for COVID-19 are now eligible for a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine to help increase their protection against the virus. 

There are three groups of people now eligible to receive a booster shot at least six months after receiving their second dose.

  • People aged 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings
  • People aged 18-64 years with certain underlying medical conditions
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional settings

In Mississippi, booster shots are now available at all county health departments. Appointments can be made online at https://covidvaccine.umc.edu or by calling the Mississippi Department of Health COVID-19 hotline at 877-978-6453.

Boosters for these groups were recommended by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on Sept. 24.

Regulators have not yet made additional recommendations about booster shots for those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Moderna has applied for Food and Drug Administration authorization of booster shots, and the FDA is leaning towards authorizing half-dose booster shots, according to a report from Bloomberg. Johnson & Johnson has not submitted an application for boosters of its single-dose vaccine to the FDA, but has reported studies that show a second dose significantly increases the vaccine’s efficacy.

In August, FDA made a small number of people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and organ transplant recipients, who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines eligible for a third shot. These shots must be received at least four weeks after a second dose, and are not boosters, but instead a necessary component of immunization for these individuals. 

READ MORE: Mississippi Today’s Vaccine Guide

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Will Stribling covers healthcare and breaking news for Mississippi Today.