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COVID vaccine booster doses: What CSRA residents need to know

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 10:28 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend COVID-19 booster shots for anyone over 65, seniors at long-term care facilities, people with underlying health conditions and people who are at high risk of catching COVID.

Who’s eligible for a booster?

Recommendations for COVID vaccine booster shots include:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series
  • People age 50 to 64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series
  • People age 18 to 49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks
  • People age 18 to 64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

Only the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has been authorized as a booster dose, and the above recommendations will only apply to individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for their primary series.

When to get a booster shot

“This is an important step in our continued efforts to keep our families and friends safe by decreasing the number of severe COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control public health director.

She said the state’s health leaders urge eligible people to get a booster dose as soon as they reach the six-month mark.

But DHEC says it’s best for people who are not eligible to wait until it is your turn.

“It might not do as much as it could do for you. And so they have really looked at the data. The groups that they’re recommending it for now are the ones who will, based on science and data, benefit the most right now from it,” Traxler said.

Where to get a booster shot

If you need your booster shot, August University Health is holding clinics all this week at its Washington Square site, 2834 Washington Road.

The clinics will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through Friday and will offer booster doses for those who qualify, as well as first and second doses.

Appointments are available at https://www.augustahealth.org/vaccine.

Are enough doses available?

With more than 40 million doses available, U.S. health authorities said they’re confident there will be enough for people to get booster shots and to cover the young children who may soon get approval for initial doses.

Federal and state health authorities said current supply and steady production of more doses can easily accommodate those seeking boosters or initial vaccination.

“I think states have tried to plan as if everybody’s going to be offered a booster,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

What’s next?

People who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are waiting to hear when they might be eligible for a booster.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky acknowledges there may have been some mixed messages about booster shots.

“I recognize that confusion right now,” Walensky told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“We are evaluating this science in real time,” she said. “We are meeting every several weeks now to evaluate the science. The science may very well show that the rest of the population needs to be boosted and we will provide those guidances as soon as we have the science to inform them.”

Officials from Pfizer, meanwhile, say they are ready to ask for federal approval to vaccinate kids ages 5-11.

The dose would be one-third the size given to other age groups.

Once the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the vaccine for that age group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will still need to give the final go-ahead.

Pfizer says it is only a matter days before the company submits its request.

Pfizer announced days ago that tests show the vaccine is safe and effective for those ages 5 to 11.

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