Local Health Departments Plan for a Potential COVID-19 Booster Shot Amid Confusion

Local Health Departments Plan for a Potential COVID-19 Booster Shot Amid Confusion

More than 1.9 million people have already received an additional dose since mid-August.

It’s not certain whether or not booster doses for the COVID-19 vaccine will be given the thumbs up for people fully vaccinated in the U.S. and local health departments. However, these departments are planning for a potential rollout next week. Last month, health officials announced booster doses be offered the week of September 20, subject to sign from the FDA and CDC. The conversations are continuing to take place this week, including a meeting with FDA advisers, but the decision isn’t 100 percent yet. Still, those tasked with administering boosters can’t wait for the details to be finalized.

"We don't want to be unprepared," Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet Friday to discuss whether data on the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine support the idea of giving a booster dose to people 16 years and older about six months after they complete their second dose. There will also be more steps in boosters before they’ll be approved to go into the arms of the general public. The distribution plan won’t look too similar to the earlier vaccination efforts. According to an article, there won’t be long lines held at stadiums or pharmacies going to nursing homes to distribute the shot. It is looking like the boosters will be administered at other sites, such as doctor’s offices or specific clinics.

It still isn’t clear when people will be eligible for the booster, if it at all becomes available. The Biden administration previously stated that U.S. residents would be eligible for the third dose of the vaccine eight months after receiving their second shot. In that case, up to 5.2 million people may be eligible to get it if it becomes available by the end of the week.

"At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster," a statement said. "We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them."

According to the CDC, more than 1.9 million people have already received an additional dose since mid-August. The FDA and CDC previously signed off allowing the third dose for people who are immunocompromised.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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