What you need to know about COVID boosters

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FILE – In this July 7, 2021 file photo, people wait after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, in a vaccination center of Lyon, central France. France on Wednesday started administering booster shots of COVID-19 vaccine to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions to shore up their vaccine protection, as the highly contagious delta variant is spreading in the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Booster shots for COVID-19 are coming very soon. But, not for everyone who has already been vaccinated.

People initially vaccinated with Pfizer’s vaccine could be eligible as soon as the third week of September, according to multiple Federal government health agencies including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It’s the agencies plan to make COVID boosters available to people who have completed either the Pfizer or Moderna two-dose series eight months after getting their last shot, the CDC said. They’ve set a target date of September 20 for the first boosters to be available.

The announcement was made on August 18, two days after Pfizer announced it had submitted clinical information that supported a booster shot to better protect people against variants like Beta and Delta.

A majority of the vaccinated U.S., about 95.5 million, received the Pfizer vaccine, based on CDC data as of September 6. This makes a large portion of vaccinated Americans eligible for a booster potentially within the next two to two-and-a-half weeks.

People waiting on a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson booster may have to wait longer. The health agencies said its booster plan currently only includes Moderna and Pfizer. However, as it has been in the past, Moderna is a step behind Pfizer. Moderna sent information to the FDA on September 1 to begin the process of getting a booster approved, two-and-a-half weeks after Pfizer sent its information.

Even though health agencies didn’t include a Johnson & Johnson booster in its plans, the company said additional clinical trials indicated the effectiveness of a booster shot on August 25. On its website, the company said it is “engaging” with the FDA regarding the availability of a booster for its COVID vaccine but made no mention of when a formal request would be submitted.

Vaccine manufacturerNumber fully vaccinated
Pfizer95,507,504
Moderna66,062,472
Johnson & Johnson14,298,115
Unknown100,175
Source: CDC

New York’s COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker does not say how many or what percentage of the 11.8 million fully vaccinated New Yorkers received which vaccine. NEWS10 ABC reached out to the Department of Health on Monday to try and get that information but has yet to hear back from them.

Booster shots versus third doses

Approximately two weeks ago, Capital Region counties, like Schenectady County, started offering third doses to immune-compromised people after the CDC said people with a compromised immune system may not have obtained the same level of immunity as someone with a healthy immune system.

The CDC made clear on its website that the third shot available to immunocompromised individuals is not the same as a booster. “This additional dose [is] intended to improve immunocompromised people’s response to their initial vaccine series,” the agency said.

The CDC further clarified saying COVID booster shots have not yet been approved: “Although CDC does not recommend additional doses or booster shots for any other population at this time, HHS has announced a plan to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots this fall.”

Governor Kathy Hochul said there would be $65 million available to help counties give out booster shots but said it would fall on the shoulders of the counties to determine what booster clinics would look like.

With state mass vaccination sites closed down, Albany and Rensselaer counties told NEWS10 last week they are concerned about being able to get booster shots in the arms of eligible people once they are approved.

“If it’s going to be every eight months, every six months, or whatever they decide, health departments weren’t set up to continually do vaccinations for our entire population. We were always set up for emergencies,” said Rensselaer County Public Health Director Mary Fran Wachunas.

“FEMA was here, and they did a lot of shots at the Washington Armory. So if they don’t come back in, who’s going to fill that void? If the state doesn’t open up its mass sites again, who’s going to fill that void?” said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy.

Approval for Pfizer’s booster shot will be pushing the health agency’s September 20 target date. According to the Associated Press, an FDA review panel will be looking at Pfizer’s data on boosters on September 17.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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