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Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots available for high-risk groups in North Carolina

Those eligible can find booster shots at their health care provider, pharmacies and other locations where COVID-19 vaccines are available.
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 4:42 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - State officials say North Carolina residents at high risk for serious illness or exposure who have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for six months or more can now receive a booster shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot is recommended for individuals who have been fully vaccinated for six months or more with the Pfizer vaccine.

Officials say people who are 65 years or older, 18 years or older with underlying medical conditions or work in a high-risk setting like healthcare workers, teachers and childcare providers or food workers are eligible in North Carolina.

“Pfizer boosters are now authorized for certain groups of individuals to extend the protection of vaccines against severe illness,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “If you are eligible, get your booster. If you aren’t vaccinated yet, don’t wait. The COVID-19 virus is more contagious than ever and we are seeing it attack the unvaccinated and make them very sick at an alarming rate.”

The third dose boosters are available for the groups below:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series;
  • People aged 50 to 64 with certain underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series;
  • People 18 to 49 who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to certain underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks; and
  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

Those eligible can find booster shots at their health care provider, pharmacies and other locations where COVID-19 vaccines are available.

CVS started making those booster shots available on Friday, according to a press release. Approximately 5,600 CVS stores across the country will be administering the Pfizer booster, including 207 locations in North Carolina.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department and Novant will start administering the booster shots on Monday, September 27.

Healthcare professionals and some other frontline workers are now eligible for a Pfizer booster shot, but they were almost left off the list.

The CDC vaccine advisers met earlier this week and agreed that the FDA authorization for the booster shot should be used for those over the age 65, those who live in long term care facilities and those with underlying health conditions.

But when it came for boosters for people at risk because of their work, they voted against it. But the CDC Director sided with the FDA and said those workers are eligible after all. Advocates for health care workers say that was the right decision.

“It will help reduce any potential breakthrough illnesses that might occur in them. I know if I was a ICU nurse and this was something becoming available to me, I’d be first in line,” said Tatyana Kelly, the vice president of member services at the North Carolina Healthcare Association. “Hospitals in particular are really encouraged to be able to provide not only to their workforce but those who might be under their care at that time.”

Teachers also could be rolling up their sleeves soon.

“It adds another layer of protection so you might still get it but it will mitigate against serious side effects,” said Steve Oreskovic, a CMS teacher.

Jail populations and employees would also fall under these new recommendations. Those discussions are already in the works in Mecklenburg County.

On the Monday, when many Mecklenburg County residents had their first chance to get the booster shot, there wasn’t a mad rush to the vaccination sites.

“I think it’s going to take a few days for people to hear about it,” said Robert Dawkins.

Others say they were surprised there weren’t more crowds to get the booster. They’re hopeful people will still come get them.

“This is my part. For me not to get sick, for me to be around for my grandson. For me to be around for my kids. For people who want to live, should just do it,” said Lori Pew.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department added extra staff to handle any future demand but their focus is still on getting the first dose into unvaccinated arms.

“I’m concerned that we get the third doses available to people but I’m more concerned that we get those folks who have not had any vaccine or are only partially vaccinated, that we continue to focus on that as well,” said Mecklenburg County Health Director, Gibbie Harris.

Officials say there is no need for people to go back to the location where they received their original vaccines as most COVID-19 vaccination locations can provide Pfizer boosters.

Visit MySpot.nc.gov and check “Pfizer-BioNTech (age 12+)” to search locations and ensure Pfizer is available. The CDC’s decision follows the Food and Drug Administration authorizing boosters for certain populations on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

If you have questions about whether to get a Pfizer booster, NCDHHS encourages you to talk to a medical professional to get their opinion.

Officials say North Carolina’s actions are based on recommendations from the CDC. Read the CDC’s full statement here.

If you have questions about Pfizer COVID-19 boosters, you can also join NCDHHS’s upcoming Town Hall featuring Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, State Health Director and NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer on Monday, Sept. 27, 5:30-6 p.m. by dialing 855-756-7520 and entering 76072# when prompted.

Visit MySpot.nc.gov for more COVID-19 information and updates and to find a vaccine location near you.

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