(WJHL) – People who received their last dose of Pfizer at least six months ago and fall into an at-risk category now qualify for booster shots, and local health officials already have plans to start administering the doses.
According to the CDC, people who qualify are those 65 and older, residents in long-term care settings, those with underlying conditions, and those at increased risk for COVID exposure due to occupational or institutional settings.
“If you’ve been vaccinated, we really encourage you to get this booster,” Ballad Health Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift said. “As we see Delta is spreading throughout the region, we have seen some breakthrough cases, you know, just gives us that extra layer of protection.”
Ballad Health will start administering boosters to their employees who qualify on Monday and to member of the public who qualify on Tuesday. Sullivan County will start their booster shots Monday morning at their Blountville and Kingsport locations.
“We calculated based off January and February’s numbers, there’s probably about 11,000 people in Sullivan County that become immediately eligible, particularly in that high-risk group,” said Dr. Stephen May, medical director of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department.
May said you can’t mix-and-match vaccines. You can only get the current booster shot if Pfizer is what you got before.
“It’s also important that we stress those who have not received their first or second doses please go ahead and get your first and second doses,” Dr. May said. “That’s our key to stopping this pandemic.”
Swift said she thinks the rollout for boosters will be smoother than the initial shots.
“Obviously supply is not an issue,” Swift said. “People I think don’t need to feel that urgency to get there on the first day and stand in two-hour lines.”
Health officials said that they are still awaiting more information on Moderna and Johnson and Johnson booster shots, but they are expecting that information sometime soon.