San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is announcing booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are now available for individuals ages 65 and older, high risk workers, people in institutional settings, and adults with underlying health conditions. The booster shot can be administered at least six months after recipients complete the two-dose series of the Pfizer vaccine. Among the eligible group, the booster doses of Pfizer are currently authorized only for individuals who originally received the Pfizer vaccine. Additional Federal and State review is needed before the population eligible for boosters expands to include people who originally received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The following lists several of the ‘underlying health conditions’ for Pfizer booster eligibility:
- Chronic lung disease
- Significant heart disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Other underlying health conditions
There are several other groups eligible for a Pfizer booster including people in institutional settings or at high risk of occupational exposure to COVID-19:
- Health care workers
- Teachers and day care staff
- Grocery workers
- People in long term care facilities, homeless shelters, prisons or other congregate settings
- First responders
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer booster doses yesterday, citing scientific research showing that vaccine immunity fades gradually over time, and the positive impact of boosters on preventing severe illness caused by the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Individuals who are eligible for the Pfizer boosters are advised to seek out a vaccine clinic or provider at their earliest convenience. SJBPH clinics operated in partnership with Jogan Health Solutions will now administer booster shots at all scheduled clinics, and these clinics will continue to offer critical first and second doses of vaccine to those who have not completed their initial vaccine series. Although all SJBPH clinics can administer boosters, two reoccurring clinics in Archuleta and La Plata counties are highlighted for residents seeking a booster for their ability to accommodate a high volume of patients:
- La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Avenue, Durango
- Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Sign up for an appointment (appointments recommended)
- Pagosa Middle School, 309 Lewis St, Pagosa Springs
- Saturdays and Sundays,10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Sign up for an appointment (appointments recommended)
Residents can also access booster doses of Pfizer through other enrolled providers in the region. Individuals are encouraged to verify with the provider in advance that they have adequate supply of Pfizer vaccine and are able to administer the booster.
“The CDC, FDA, and the scientific research now support boosters as a way to provide additional protection for our more vulnerable populations. We hope that eligible individuals will jump on this opportunity to build more immunity right away,” said Liane Jollon, SJBPH Executive Director. “Residents who have been fully vaccinated are still well protected, especially against hospitalization and death, but evidence shows that a booster dose will provide even more protection. Our top priority continues to be people who have yet to receive a single dose of vaccine—answering their questions and providing easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Both Archuleta and La Plata counties currently have ‘High’ transmission according to the CDC. Likely due to the highly transmissible Delta variant and increased mobility of residents in their day-to-day lives, La Plata County’s one-week case incidence rate is the highest it has been since January of this year. In addition to receiving vaccination, and a booster if eligible, residents are strongly advised to wear face coverings in businesses and public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status, per SJBPH’s local Public Health Advisory.
Moderately to severely immunocompromised people ages 12 and older continue to be eligible for a third dose of vaccine. For the immunocompromised, additional doses should be administered at least four weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Immunocompromised individuals are advised to seek the same mRNA vaccine that they originally received. If the matching vaccine type is not available, immunocompromised individuals may receive the alternative mRNA vaccine.
The CDC’s authorization for immunocompromised people only refers to the mRNA vaccines. There is insufficient data to determine if a mRNA third dose is beneficial for people who originally received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. An additional dose has not been recommended yet for immunocompromised people who originally received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Moderately to severely immunocompromised includes individuals meeting one or more of the following conditions:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking immune-suppressing medications
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress the immune system
SJBPH recommends immunocompromised individuals seek a third dose through an enrolled vaccine provider or existing vaccine clinic of their choosing. Immunocompromised individuals will be asked to self-attest for eligibility at the time of vaccination for the additional dose. If you are immunocompromised, consult with your primary care provider to discuss if an additional dose is recommended for you.
It remains critical that all eligible residents and youth finish their vaccination series and receive both doses if receiving a two-shot vaccine. Anyone who is overdue for their second dose should find a clinic that matches their original vaccine type, sign up for an appointment, and bring their vaccination record card. Studies have shown completing the two-dose regimen is the best way to ensure protection against COVID-19, and especially the Delta variant.
Additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots, clinics, and enrolled vaccine providers can be found on SJBPH’s website:https://sjbpublichealth.org/covid-19-vaccine/.