Who will be eligible this week for a 4th COVID shot?

Booster shot stock image.
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With three available vaccines, booster shots and frequent recommendation updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can be hard to keep track of who is eligible for what COVID-19 shots.

This week, people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 infection will be able to get a fourth dose of vaccine to help protect them from the virus. We’ll tell you exactly who qualifies and when they can get their shots.

Who is eligible for a fourth dose right now?

People who are eligible for the fourth dose are part of the same group eligible for the third primary shot, which is different from the third booster dose available to most people.

According to CDC recommendations updated Friday, immunocompromised people should receive the regular two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer BioNTech mRNA vaccines as well as a third shot. This shot should be administered 28 days after their second dose and is considered part of their primary vaccine series.

“Having a weakened immune system can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19,” said the CDC.

Eligible individuals could fall in the following moderate to severely immunocompromised categories: those who have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood, those who have received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system, those who have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system, those with moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, those with advanced or untreated HIV infection and those who are being treated with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress immune response.

Everyone who is 5 years old or older who falls in the moderate to severe immunocompromised categories should get three primary doses.
Immunocompromised individuals should try to get the same brand of vaccine for each dose and Pfizer makes the only vaccines available in the U.S. for children 12 years old and younger.

For immunocompromised people who received a single shot of the viral vector Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC advises a booster shot of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines two months after the first dose. Last year, the CDC recommended both of the mRNA vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to blood clotting issues linked with the single shot.

Everyone 12 years and older should also get a booster shot, per CDC recommendations. For immunocompromised people who received mRNA vaccines as their primary doses, a booster shot will be their fourth dose.

When should eligible individuals get their fourth dose?

People who have received a three-dose series of primary mRNA shots should get a fourth booster shot five months after their third dose, said the CDC last Friday.

Since the centers first recommended a third primary shot for immunocompromised people in August, people who received their third doses that month should be eligible for their fourth shots this month.

Who should not get a fourth dose (yet)?

People who are not in one of the moderate to severely immunocompromised categories are not yet eligible for a fourth shot – and may not need one in the future.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said this week that his company was researching additional booster shots and preparing a vaccine targeted to prevent infections from the highly contagious omicron variant. However, he said that four booster shots may not be needed.

“I don’t think we should do anything that is not needed,” Bourla told CNBC.

While the omicron variant has fueled surges in COVID-19 in the U.S. and around the globe, some experts believe its rapid increase will be matched with a rapid decrease. In the meantime, the CDC recommends individuals get all vaccine doses they are eligible for and take precautions such as masking in public spaces and staying home when ill.