More people added to eligibility list for Pfizer booster shots

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 7:07 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - New CDC guidance reverses thoughts on boosters.

Now, the CDC director says people in jobs with higher risks of getting COVID-19 may get booster shots.

A little more than 60% of Pima County has gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine, according to Pima County Health director Dr. Theresa Cullen. Now, the possibility of booster shots increases the need for more vaccination sites.

“We will be expanding our direct delivery of vaccines using our current infrastructure,” said Dr. Cullen. “So, by Monday from a county perspective, we should be ready to go.”

The CDC has recommended 65 and older, people in long term care, 50 and up with underlying health condition should get their Pfizer booster after 6 months if they got the Pfizer shots previously.

New guidance now says those ages 18 to 64 in high-risk professional and institutional settings and those ages 18 to 49 with underlying health conditions may get a booster dose of Pfizer at least six months after their second shot, based on their individual benefits and risks.

National Nurses United, the larges nurses union in the US applauds the move.

“Just as we were clamoring for the original vaccines, that they should be given after the elderly to healthcare workers and those in other frontline professions, jobs, we feel the same way now with the boosters,” said Jean Ross, the group’s president.

It means thousands more will be seeking booster shots, which pharmacies and clinical settings, along with smaller county operations have been handling. By early next week, the county will have their own plan on how to re-scale back up COVID-19 vaccinations to accommodate the boosters.

“What we have been thinking about is staffing up two points of distribution,” said Dr. Cullen.

Dr. Cullen suggests the sights may distribute about half as many vaccine doses a day as the previous mass vaccination sights.

“I don’t believe it’s going to present a significant logistical issue. We’ve demonstrated the capacity to ramp up very quickly to deliver a lot of vaccines to a lot of people,” said Matt Heinz, Pima County Supervisor.

The state and county health departments stress this does not mean people in these categories have to get boosters but are allowed to. In a statement, the interim director for ADHS, Don Herrington, says there is plenty of Pfizer to go around, and the primary focus remains on getting people their first doses of vaccine.

“Rest assured there is plenty of Pfizer vaccine in Arizona to accommodate not just those needing booster doses but those who need their first doses,” said Herrington said. “Our primary focus remains helping unvaccinated Arizonans make the lifesaving choice to take advantage of safe, free, and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines.”

ADHS said people thinking about getting their first or third COVID shots should also consider getting their flu shot at the same time. Some projections anticipate a high flu season this year.

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