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Who's eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot? More people than you might think

a woman holding a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine
Spectrum Health
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As worries over a “fourth surge” grow in Michigan, some health leaders are encouraging more adults to get a booster shot for the COVID-19 vaccine. And they say many people may not realize they’re already eligible to receive the booster.

The CDC says everyone aged 65 or older should get a booster shot, if it's been at least six months since they completed their first round of vaccination. The CDC also recommends the booster for anyone over the age of 50 who has an underlying health condition. But if you’re at least 18 years old, and you meet the same criteria, the CDC says you may get the booster.

Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, says the CDC also expanded the list of criteria for what counts as an underlying health condition.

"[I]t’s very broad. I mean, legitimately probably 70% of the population would qualify."
Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, Spectrum Health

“And it’s very broad. I mean, legitimately probably 70% of the population would qualify, if they’re six months out, to get boosted.”

The CDC’s list includes conditions such as cancer, liver disease and diabetes, which cover millions of Americans. But the list also includes mood disorders, such as depression, and weight.

“And the example I give is a BMI, which I think we all know is the body mass index, which is your weight and height in a calculation,” Elmouchi says. “The CDC now expanded if you have a BMI of 25 or greater - which is just mildly overweight, quite honestly - you qualify.”

The CDC estimates more than 70% of Americans have a BMI of 25 or higher. The CDC also has a BMI calculator available online.

Many local pharmacies now offer vaccine booster shots, along with medical facilities. The state also has a list of upcoming clinics, where vaccinations are available without an appointment. There is no cost to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

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