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California and Colorado start COVID-19 booster shots for all adults

A vaccine card showing two doses of Pfizer and a booster.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Adults in California and Colorado can receive a COVID-19 booster shot if it has been at least six months since their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, according to the states' public health departments.

This guidance expands the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that only adults who are 65 years or older, or younger adults who are at high-risk of severe disease due to underlying health conditions or who are living or working in high-risk settings, can receive booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. (The CDC also recommends those who are 18 years of age or older who received Johnson&Johnson at least 2 months ago, to get a booster).

"Allow patients to self-determine their risk of exposure," Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the director and state public health officer for California's Department of Public Health wrote in a letter on Tuesday (Nov. 9) to local health providers. "Do not turn a patient away who is requesting a booster," if the patient is 18 years of age and older and it's been at least six months since they've received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or at least 2 months since they received their Johnson&Johnson vaccine, he wrote.

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Similarly, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order on Thursday (Nov. 11) that now says every adult (18 years or older) who received the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, is eligible to receive a booster dose.

"Every [Coloradan] is now eligible to get the booster so they can protect themselves and their families,” Gov. Polis said in a statement. "I was relieved to get the booster two weeks ago, and strongly encourage you to get it too."

On Tuesday (Nov. 9), Pfizer and BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand booster shot eligibility for all adults in the U.S., and Moderna is expected to submit a similar request soon, according to The New York Times. The FDA, which a few months back did not recommend boosters for all adults, is now expected to do so before the holidays, according to the Times.

Currently, about 26 million people in the U.S., or 13.4% of fully vaccinated adults, have received a booster shot, according to the CDC. Only about 32.4% of fully vaccinated adults who are 65 years or older have received a booster dose.

Only about 58.5% of the U.S. population are fully vaccinated. 

Originally published on Live Science.

Yasemin Saplakoglu

Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.