eople 65 and older and people ages 50 to 64 with medical conditions, who got their second doses of Pfizer at least six months ago, should get boosters, according to the CDC.
Younger people who previously received Pfizer and have medical conditions or jobs that put them at greater risk of COVID-19 exposure are supposed to decide for themselves whether to get boosters “based on their individual risks and benefits,” according to the CDC.
“It’s a bit of a challenging question to ask,” said Dr. Sadiya Khan, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “We don’t have enough data to know what the exact benefit would be in someone who is younger, even with (mild) underlying medical conditions and what the risks are.”
The risks of the booster are likely very low, she said, though the CDC has said it’s “actively monitoring” reports of myocarditis and pericarditis, especially in young men, after their second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. Instances of those conditions after second doses of mRNA shots have been rare, and most people affected have recovered quickly, according to the CDC.
When considering the risks and benefits, many experts point to Israel, which began boosting people ages 60 and older in late July. In Israel, the boosters were found to significantly increase protection against the illness while proving to be about as safe as the previous two doses.
Khan recommends people consider how much COVID-19 transmission is occurring in their communities, how serious their underlying medical conditions may be and how much exposure to others they have in their lives. People may also want to discuss the question with their doctors if they’re unsure, she said.