Agencies plan for boosters

The CDC has given new recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Local health clinics are planning how to best distribute those shots, along with those for children once approved.

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October 22, 2021 - 4:09 PM

Local health officials are working on plans to offer COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all three shots, and for children ages 5 and 11 once approval of that vaccine is available.

The CDC on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions more people, adding eligibility for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters in addition to Pfizer, which was approved weeks ago. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also endorsed a mix-and-match approach; you don’t have to get the same vaccine as your original shot.

The Allen County Health Department carries all three vaccines, but currently is offering Pfizer boosters and awaiting instruction on how to roll out the boosters for the other vaccines, according to Rebecca Johnson, director of the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Departments.

The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas also is developing a plan for boosters, and should have an announcement soon for those options, said Cathy Dreher, practice manager at the Iola office.

For someone who received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago, the CDC is recommending boosters for specific groups: those over the age of 65, those who live in long-term care facilities, those with underlying health conditions and those who live or work in high-risk settings.

Booster shots are recommended for everyone who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine two or more months ago and are 18 or older.

The difference is because a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been proven to be less effective than the Pfizer or Moderna series, and health authorities want to give everyone an opportunity for increased protection.

Studies have shown that a mix-and-match approach also may increase protection. That means someone who received a J & J vaccine could get a Pfizer or Moderna booster, or whatever combination is available or preferred. 

That approach also allows for greater flexibility, as you can get whatever is available rather than waiting for a specific type. 

APPROVAL OF the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 appears imminent. 

Health authorities expect the vaccine to be approved for emergency use and the first shots available in early November, if all continues to go according to plan.

It’s too soon to know how local health officials will distribute vaccines for children.

Johnson, with the health department, said her agency will offer the shots for children, and likely will consider a variety of outreach programs. That could include clinics, walk-in appointments or working with schools.

“It depends on the demand,” she said.

CURRENTLY, Allen County continues to have about 34 active COVID-19 cases.

Since the pandemic began, the county has reported 1,863 total cases and 26 deaths.

The county currently ranks 83rd out of 105 counties for its vaccination rates and number of positive cases. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports 44.92% of Allen County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 41.42% have completed the series.

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