Some Michiganders may want to seek out a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot. Here’s what to know about the safe extra dose and how it can help keep you and others safe. 

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Around the world, people continue to do their part to fend off the coronavirus, taking precautions such as wearing masks or social distancing with the hopes of limiting the chance to spread the virus. 

Meanwhile, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, groups of people work tirelessly to manufacture one of the three vaccines developed to save lives during the pandemic: the Pfizer Vaccine. 

Big news in August came out of the fairly small Michigan city where the vaccine is developed, as the US Food and Drug Administration officially signed off on the vaccine, giving further support for its use to combat the spread of the coronavirus and to keep people safe. 

More safety measures were taken last week when the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention endorsed Pfizer booster shots for certain groups of people in various situations. 

In the battle against the coronavirus, Pfizer—manufactured in Michigan’s backyard—is one of the world’s best weapons to fight COVID-19. But still, questions surround the vaccine and the newly validated booster shot.  Who should get it? What is the point? And how does the approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine differ from vaccines most Americans already have, such as the inactivated polio vaccine, or vaccines given for the flu or chickenpox?

Below is a breakdown of what to know about the updates with the Pfizer vaccine and its booster shot. 

Who Should Get a Pfizer Booster Shot?

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose series vaccine, meaning it is administered through two shots given to a patient through an injection into a muscle three weeks apart. But now, national health authorities are saying a third shot is recommended for some people. 

So what does that mean? According to Pfizer, you may benefit from a third booster shot if you’re 65 and older or if you’re a nursing home or assisted living resident.  The CDC also recommends people ages 50 to 64 with health problems such as diabetes, asthma, or who are obese also should get a booster shot. 

People 18 to 49 who were given a Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago and who have health problems can also seek out a third Pfizer shot, as can anyone 18 to 64 who works in a job that puts them in a situation where they face a high risk of getting COVID-19. The CDC stopped short of recommending booster shots for these groups, however. 

How Does the Pfizer Booster Shot Make You Safer?

The main idea behind booster shots for people who work in high-risk situations is to increase people’s defense against the virus. The COVID-19 vaccines and their booster shots show many similarities to previous vaccines in that even with sometimes low effective doses, the use of the vaccines can still save lives. 

Take, for example, the flu vaccine, which, according to the CDC has a success rating of 40% to 60%. Despite that, the vaccine from 2018 to 2019 helped prevent more than 4 million influenza cases and over 3,500 influenza-related deaths, according to the CDC. 

An additional booster shot should give people an additional layer of protection against the virus. 

Those who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines still need to wait for additional doses of those vaccines, as federal authorities have yet to sign off on the extra shots. 

Why Get a Pfizer Booster Shot? 

A Pfizer booster shot is recommended for some groups of people because it adds another layer of defense in protecting them against the coronavirus and helping prevent the further spread of the virus. And this isn’t unusual for common vaccines, such as those used to fight influenza. 

Additional doses or booster shots of a vaccine can help add a layer of defense. Those same aspects apply to the COVID-19 vaccines, as well. Protections against the virus may wane over time, making people a little more susceptible to the Delta variant. Studies suggest that increased shots help boost the immune system, protecting against the virus. 

Pfizer said in its announcement of the vaccine being given FDA approval that the booster shot elicited higher neutralizing antibodies against the original strain of COVID-19, as well as other variants, such as Delta. 

“Today’s emergency use authorization is supported by clinical data underlining that a booster induces a strong immune response against tested variants of concern and can address a current public health need,” said Ugur Sahin, a doctor, and co-founder of BioNTech, which partners with Pfizer in the manufacturing of the vaccine.  “We will continue to monitor new SARS-CoV-2 strains, to be prepared for potential emerging escape variants.

“We and our collaboration partner have submitted booster data to other regulatory agencies around the world. We are simultaneously working to expand access to our vaccines globally.”