The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a single booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday evening, Sept. 22 for individuals aged 65 and older, individuals aged 18-64 with a high risk of severe COVID-19 and individuals aged 18-64 who have frequent institutional or occupational exposure to the virus.
The above individuals qualify for a booster dose at least six months after the completion of the first series. Individuals should only receive the Pfizer booster dose if their original vaccination series was Pfizer. Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state the vaccines are not interchangeable.
“After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D., stated.
Pfizer gained full FDA approval in August. Moderna submitted its application for FDA approval in June, and Johnson & Johnson is expected to submit their application later this year. Both the Richland County Health Department and Wilkin County Public Health provide Pfizer vaccines.
Ashley Wiertzema, Wilkin County Public Health, said they have to wait until they get the green light from the Minnesota Department of Health before they can be authorized to begin administering booster doses. It can take several days following an announcement from the FDA.
“Watch the news from MDH and Wilkin County Public Health for an update in the next few days,” Wiertzema said.
Wilkin County is still holding vaccine clinics every Thursday. Once MDH approves booster doses, the county can begin taking appointments for individuals who originally received the Pfizer vaccine that fall within the above categories. Appointments can be made by calling Wilkin County Public Health at 218-643-7122.
Richland County Health Department Health Services Director Kayla Carlson said they also need to wait on guidance from the state, then they will work with local vaccine providers in the county to administer booster doses. More information will be forthcoming.
Throughout the month of October, Richland County Health Department will be hosting flu and COVID-19 vaccine clinics around the county every week. The next clinic will be held from 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6 at the Hankinson Community Center. Individuals can make a vaccine appointment at https://www.ndvax.org/.