Rollout of booster shots begins

Published 6:02 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, which are now authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are now available to North Carolinians.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said the booster shots will be available wherever COVID-19 vaccines are offered. The exact rollout time depends on the entity administering the doses.

The Beaufort County Health Department announced in a press release Friday that it was waiting on further guidance form the state, and anticipates starting to administer booster shots in a drive-thru clinic as early as Thursday, Nov. 4. Appointments will be required, and can be arranged starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 27 by visiting www.bchd.net or by calling 252-940-6150.

According to the NCDHHS, the Moderna booster is recommended for individuals who received their second dose at least six months ago and who are “at high risk for severe illness based on their age, profession, living setting or health conditions.” That includes people ages 65 and older, as well as people 18 and older who:

·      Live or work in a nursing home or long-term care facility;

·      Have underlying medical conditions;

·      Work in high-risk settings like healthcare workers, teachers and childcare providers or food workers; or,

·      Live or work in a place where many people live together (for example, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, migrant farm housing, dormitories or other group living settings in colleges or universities).

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster shot is recommended for individuals ages 18 and older who were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots have been available since Sept. 24 for North Carolinians at high risk for serious illness or exposure and who received their second dose at least six months ago.

Individuals can now choose to receive any brand of the vaccine for their COVID-19 booster shot.

“Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster,” a DHHS press release reads. “Limited preliminary evidence suggests that booster doses of one of the two mRNA vaccines — Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech — more effectively raise antibody levels than a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”

The health department said Friday it won’t mix and match vaccines until state guidance is released.

“The Health Department does not make individual recommendations about mixing and matching vaccines,” the release says. “Individuals should discuss options with their medical provider.”

Walgreens announced Friday that it is now offering the booster shots in stores nationwide.” CVS said it is offering the booster shots at “select CVS Pharmacy locations.”