October 28, 2021

Booster Shot Expansion: What Employers Need to Know

Stephen Massey
Managing Director, Health Action Alliance

Workers in ‘high risk’ settings can decide to get a booster. Definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ doesn’t change. All eligible adults can ‘mix and match’ COVID-19 vaccines.

By recommending booster shots of all three COVID-19 vaccines and allowing people to “mix and match” vaccine brands regardless of which vaccine they initially received, the CDC has made boosters available to millions more people as of last week. Here are the key points for employers:

  • Boosters are available to adults who work in high-risk settings. That includes first responders, education staff and daycare providers, workers in manufacturing settings, food and agriculture workers, grocery store workers and others.
  • Workers in high-risk settings can determine whether they need a booster based on their individual risks, such as the level of community transmission of the virus and their risk of unavoidable and frequent interactions with unvaccinated people. 
  • Individuals can self-report that they are eligible for a booster and receive one wherever vaccines are offered. No doctor’s note or proof of employment as a frontline worker is required.
  • This doesn’t change the definition of “fully vaccinated.” Employers who have a workplace vaccination requirement do not need to update their policies to require booster shots at this time.
  • The COVID-19 vaccines are still safe and effective. With boosters, medical experts are helping people stay ahead of the virus and finding new ways to prolong their protection.
  • Spread the word to your employees and on social media. Print-ready materials and social media graphics and messaging can be found in the resources below.

In addition to workers in high-risk settings, the following groups are eligible to receive a booster shot at least six months after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines:

  • People 65 years and older
  • Adults with underlying medical conditions
  • Adults who live in long-term care settings

And booster shots are recommended for everyone 18 and older at least two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. See the CDC guidance for full details

See our updated Conversation Guides for Managers and Small Business Owners for help talking to employees about COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.