On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine to extend booster dose eligibility to fully vaccinated people ages 16-17.
Also Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a recommendation for booster dose use for this age group. This is an important step toward strengthening protection against COVID-19 for teens ages 16 and 17.
Fayette County Public Health is now scheduling booster doses for ages 16 and older at faycohd.org/events.
Q: Who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose?
A: Booster doses are authorized for fully vaccinated vaccine recipients who are 16 years old or older. At this time, booster doses are not recommended for anyone younger than 16 years. However, a third/additional dose of the Pfizer vaccine is recommended for immunocompromised individuals age 12 and older four weeks after receiving the initial two doses.
Q: When should I get a COVID-19 booster dose?
A: If you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are eligible for a booster dose two months following the initial dose. If you received a Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccine for your primary series (initial two shots), you are eligible for a booster dose six months after your second shot. If you are an immunocompromised patient who received an additional (third) dose of Pfizer/Comirnaty or Moderna vaccine, you are eligible for a booster dose six months after receiving the additional dose. (This additional dose would have been given at least four weeks after the second dose.)
Q: Can I get a booster dose of a different vaccine than I initially received?
A: It depends on your age. If you are 16 or 17, you are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Adult recipients, ages 18 and older, may choose which vaccine to receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix- and-match dosing for booster shots for people who are 18 or older.
Q: If we need booster doses, does this mean the COVID-19 vaccines are no longer effective?
A: No. The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be remarkably effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, and continue to offer protection against variants. Protection against severe illness and death was the original goal of vaccines. A booster dose could help fully vaccinated people at greater risk maintain the highest protection over time, and initial data suggests that boosters help broaden and strengthen protection against Omicron and other variants.
Q: Where can I get a booster dose?
A: Find a provider and schedule an appointment at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. or faycohd.org. Most pharmacies offer either walk-in or scheduled appointments.
Q: Do I have to get my booster at the same place where I received the original vaccine series? What if it isn’t open anymore?
A: No, you do not need to visit the same vaccine provider for your booster dose. Eligible Ohioans who are not being vaccinated in a long-term care or work setting can choose to receive their COVID-19 at any vaccine provider statewide.
Q: Do I need to bring my COVID-19 vaccine card to my appointment? What if I lost it?
A: Ohioans are encouraged to bring their existing COVID-19 vaccine card to be updated. If you cannot find your vaccine card, you should first contact your original vaccine provider to see if they can locate your records. If they are unable to assist, please contact Fayette County Public Health.
Q: Are booster doses for the Pfizer or the Comirnaty vaccine?
A: Comirnaty is another name for the fully approved Pfizer vaccine. They are two names for the same product.
What is the Omicron variant?
Omicron is a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The Omicron variant has been detected in a growing number of countries, including the U.S.
Why do new COVID-19 variants continue to emerge?
Variants emerge as a result of naturally occurring mutations in viruses. For example, the flu virus changes often, which is why doctors recommend a new flu vaccine each year.
Scientists monitor all COVID-19 variants but may classify certain ones, like Omicron and Delta, as “variants of concern.” Scientists monitor these variants carefully to learn if they spread more easily, cause more severe cases than other variants, or evade vaccine protection.
Are the vaccines effective against this variant?
Studies are underway to determine if current vaccines are effective against this variant. While it is possible that current vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, vaccine availability is limited in many African countries, and South African officials are reporting that most of the people there who are sick due to the Omicron variant were not vaccinated. Vaccines remain widely available in the U.S. and the Omicron variant is yet another reason to get vaccinated and get a booster if you are eligible.
Is Omicron as serious a health risk as other variants? Is it more or less contagious?
Health officials are also collecting data to determine whether Omicron is as serious a health risk as other variants. In the meantime, it is important to remember that any coronavirus infection can be life threatening especially in people with underlying medical conditions. The best way to prevent the spread of this new variant or any other variant is to get vaccinated, get a booster if you are eligible, and to wear a mask in indoor public settings or in a crowded environment. In most places, masking is also required for air, train and bus travel and other forms of public transportation.
I’ve just returned from travel. Is there anything I should do?
Travelers should continue to follow CDC guidance for traveling, along with state and local travel return requirements. After a trip, travelers are recommended to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; and isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status) before you travel by air into the U.S., and show your negative result to the airline before boarding. The CDC recommends that all travelers returning from international travel get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after travel.
If you are not fully vaccinated, the CDC also recommends that you get tested for COVID-19 3-5 days after returning from travel (domestic or international), and to stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.
Appointments are required for all FCPH vaccination clinics. Please bring your COVID Vaccination Record if you have already received at least one dose and your health insurance card if you are getting a flu shot. Masks are required.
FCPH OFFICE –
Pfizer/Comirnaty – Dec. 17 – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Moderna – Dec. 13 – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) – Dec. 15 – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
All three COVID-19 vaccines will be available on Wednesday, Dec. 29 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
FAYETTE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS – All three COVID-19 vaccines, flu and high-dose flu will be available. The health department office will be closed on these dates so that staff can work offsite at the clinic.
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 21, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
For more information on vaccination clinic dates, visit faycohd.org/events or call 740-335-5910.
COVID-19 Community Transmission & Case Update
Fayette County continues to experience a high level of community transmission of COVID-19 per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent the spread of Delta and protect others.
There have been a total of 5,096 cases reported in Fayette County (3,871 confirmed, 1,225 probable) since the pandemic began. The total number of hospitalizations is 387. There have been a total of 72 deaths, and 4,638 individuals are presumed recovered. (Presumed recovered is defined as cases with a symptom onset at or above 21 days prior who are not deceased).
For more information, visit faycohd.org.