Health depts. gear up for boosters, child doses

·3 min read

Oct. 23—PLATTSBURGH — Local health departments are gearing up to offer Moderna and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters and planning ahead for when emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine among 5- to 11-year-olds likely comes down.

MODERNA, J&J

Earlier this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended Moderna and J&J boosters for certain populations, a decision endorsed by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky.

Eligibility for a Moderna booster is the same as for Pfizer boosters: people who are age 65 or older, and all adults who live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, or work or live in high-risk settings can receive booster doses at least six months after completion of their initial series, according to the CDC website.

Anyone 18 or older who originally received the J&J vaccine at least two months ago may now receive a booster. The CDC said its recommendations now allow for mixing and matching of these different vaccines for booster shoots.

DOH RECOMMENDATIONS

Essex County Health Department Program Coordinator Andrea Whitmarsh said the next steps for moving forward with the newer boosters require the state Department of Health Clinical Advisory Task Force to convene to discuss the CDC's decision and issue recommendations.

"Once we have those recommendations and update our internal processes including our standing order, screening and documentation, we will move forward with offering Moderna and (J&J) booster doses following state guidance."

Franklin County Public Health Director Kathleen Farrell Strack said her agency has vaccine on hand and would be able to incorporate the doses into its ongoing clinic schedule.

Clinton County Health Department has already ordered vaccine in anticipation of rolling out Moderna and J&J boosters, Principal Public Health Educator Molly Flynn said.

"They will be included in our weekly clinics once approved."

ALL HANDS ON DECK

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is slated to meet Tuesday to discuss allowing emergency use authorization of the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, according to the FDA website.

It is anticipated that rollout of child-sized doses could begin as soon as early November, when the CDC's advisory committee is expected to meet.

Flynn said CCHD is working with local pediatric providers on the best plan moving forward for vaccinating the younger population.

"The hope is for many local pediatric offices to be able to offer this vaccine to their patients as current guidance recommends these vaccine be giving by pediatric providers," she said.

"A large POD (point of distribution) for this age group may be possible, however logistics will have to be worked out in the coming weeks."

ECHD has also reached out to providers.

"Our department is excited to move forward with this next phase of pandemic response," Essex County Director of Public Health Linda Beers said in a statement.

"Based on my conversations with our health care partners, they are, too. For all those wanting to get their child vaccinated, we're all hands on deck."

SRMT PREPARES

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe's Health Services department announced that, beginning Nov. 3, it would begin offering Pfizer booster shots only to those who are 65 or older or have immunocompromised conditions, SRMT Director of Communications Brendan White said.

Those who are eligible can schedule an appointment by calling 518-333-0230.

Parents who want to schedule vaccine appointments for their 5- to 11-year-olds in anticipation of FDA authorization are also encouraged to call that number.

"We have enough Pfizer doses on hand to begin providing booster shots, but expect smaller doses to be delivered around Nov. 1 for children ages 5 to 11 years old," White said.

Email Cara Chapman:

cchapman@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @PPR_carachapman

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