Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone 18 years or older who received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine get a booster six months after their second dose to help strengthen and extend protections against COVID-19. This comes after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the boosters for such use on Friday.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster was made available in late October and is recommended for individuals ages 18 and older who were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

“I encourage all adults to get their COVID-19 booster for safer holiday gatherings with loved ones,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen. “With the recent authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, now nearly everyone in the family can be vaccinated or boosted. Don’t wait to vaccinate.”

Additionally, fully vaccinated people who received their first COVID-19 vaccines outside of the U.S. or in clinical trials with a brand not currently authorized can now receive a Pfizer booster shot when they are eligible.

Those over 50 or at high risk should get a booster now.

Recent studies indicate that while protection against severe disease and death remains strong for individuals who are fully vaccinated, people may be more likely to develop milder or asymptomatic COVID-19 over time.

Individuals can receive any brand of the COVID-19 vaccine for their booster shot. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. Limited preliminary evidence suggests that booster doses of one of the two mRNA vaccines — Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech — more effectively raise antibody levels than a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“If you are 50 or older, I urge you to get your booster as soon as you reach your six-month mark so that you are well protected, particularly as we head into winter and the holidays,” said Cohen.

Everyone who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of age, should get a booster two months after their shot.

NCDHHS encourages individuals to speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist if they have questions about what booster is right for them.

Booster shots are available anywhere COVID-19 vaccines are available, and people do not need a doctor’s note to get a booster shot. Individuals who want to receive a booster will need to know the dates and brand of their past COVID-19 vaccine.

Paper vaccination cards are helpful but may not be necessary. Anyone who received their COVID-19 vaccine at a doctor’s office, independent pharmacy, health department or at a community event can access their vaccine information on the NCDHHS Access Portal. At-home vaccination and free transportation may be available.

In addition to boosters for adults, the CDC recently recommended children ages 5 to 11 receive a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to protect them from serious illness and complications from COVID-19.

“Parents should get their children vaccinated as a safe, tested way to keep them healthy and to get them back to safely being with their family and friends,” said Secretary Cohen.

More information about vaccines for kids can be found on NCDHHS’s website.

North Carolina’s actions are based on authorization from FDA and recommendations from the CDC. Read the FDA’s full statement HERE and the CDC’s full statement HERE.

Visit the NCDHHS website for more information about boosters and additional doses.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina or to find a vaccine location, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center for free at 888-675-4567.

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