About a month after the Food and Drug Administration approved booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, on Oct. 20, the FDA announced it would also amend the emergency use authorizations for the Moderna and Janssen, or Johnson and Johnson, vaccines to allow for booster shots as well.
For the Moderna vaccine, a booster may be administered at least 6 months after the first two doses to individuals 65 or older or from 18 to 64 who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 or who are more likely to be exposed due to “frequent institutional or occupational exposure,” according to the FDA.
“Vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective tool we have to prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. Getting the unvaccinated their first shots remains a priority,” said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. “A booster dose will further protect fully vaccinated individuals by increasing the vaccine’s effectiveness in their bodies, which otherwise may wane over time.”
For the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a booster can be given at least two months after the initial dose to anyone 18 or older.
The FDA also authorized the use of a different booster than the initial vaccine. For example, someone who first received the Moderna vaccine can get a Pfizer booster, and vice versa.
“Today’s actions demonstrate our commitment to public health in proactively fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D, in a statement. “As the pandemic continues to impact the country, science has shown that vaccination continues to be the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease, such as hospitalization and death. The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations who are fully vaccinated. The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease.”
The state Department of Health reports that in the past month, more than 345,000 booster shots and third doses — approved earlier for immunocompromised patients.
Okanogan County healthcare organizations have been offering booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for several weeks.
Upcoming vaccine drive-thru events are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday (Oct. 29) at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 2 at 101 Industrial Way in Pateros and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 16 at the same location in Pateros.
Statewide, 9.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given since they were introduced. In Washington, 59.5% of the total population are fully vaccinated and 69.7% of the population over 12 years old are fully vaccinated.
In Okanogan County, just under 55% of the total population is fully vaccinated and 64.7% of residents over 12 are fully vaccinated.
For more information on COVID-19 and vaccines, go to okanogancountycovid19.org.