Children as young as 12 authorized to receive Pfizer booster

On Jan. 6, the Western States Scientific Review Workgroup joined the CDC in recommending new guidelines for the Pfizer vaccine.

The new guidance, which takes effect in Oregon immediately, says:

  • Children ages 12-15 can now get a Pfizer booster at least five months after their second dose.
  • The wait time for a booster dose has been shortened to at least five months after receiving their initial series of the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Immunocompromised children ages 5-11 can now receive a third primary series dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

It’s more important than ever to get boosted. It is vital in protecting you against severe cases of COVID-19, especially with the Omicron variant spreading so quickly. With just the primary series of vaccines, you’re only 35% protected from Omicron. With a booster, that protection level jumps up to 75%. Boosters take only two to three days to strengthen your immune response.

Where to get a COVID-19 booster

  • if you have a doctor, ask them first
  • visit the Malheur County Health Department any Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (no appointment needed)
  • Contact a local pharmacy to schedule an appointment
  • Contact a local medical clinic to schedule an appointment
  • Text ORCOVID to 898211 (English and Spanish) or email ORCOVID@211info.org
  • Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155, toll-free, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain Time) daily, including holidays
  • Or you can use the vaccine locator tool on OHA’s website, found here.

Pfizer boosters available for ages 16 to 17

Following the FDA, CDC and Western States Scientific Safety Review recommendation to expand Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccine eligibility to people 16-17 years who have completed their primary vaccination series, Malheur County Health Department will begin offering the boosters at the drive-through vaccine clinic Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021 at the Ontario Airport firehouse from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Individuals ages 16 and older who received the Pfizer vaccine should receive a booster dose after at least six months.

A booster is a vaccine dose given to a person whose immune response from the primary vaccine series has waned over time. Booster doses help people maintain strong immunity to disease longer. The first vaccine series builds up the immune system to make the antibodies needed to fight the disease. Over time, the immune response weakens. A booster dose stimulates the initial response and tends to result in higher antibody levels that help people maintain their immunity longer.

“The scientists, medical experts and health officials who reviewed studies on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines have determined that the benefits provided by a booster merit their use for this group,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer and state epidemiologist.  “We already know that protection can wane over time, and the boosters will continue to provide younger Oregonians continued protection, just as boosters are doing for Oregonians 18 years and older.”

There are an estimated 100,000 Oregonians ages 16 and 17. Of this group, approximately 25,000 are now eligible for boosters following today’s approvals. Another 25,000 persons in this age group will be eligible by the end of this month, and up to 7,000 persons who are 16 and 17 years of age will become eligible for boosters through first part of 2022.

“This is another step in expanding the numbers of persons who are protected, as we continue to deal with the Delta variant in our communities and plan for the arrival of the Omicron variant, which is already found in more than a third of states,” said Sidelinger.

All COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free. They are available throughout the state at pharmacies, health providers, Tribal clinics and community vaccination clinics.

More information can be found here.

Boosters now widely available

COVID-19 booster shots are now available to everyone over 18 who had their second dose at least six months prior, or two months after a Johnson and Johnson vaccine, after an FDA panel, followed by a CDC panel and the Western States Scientific Safety Review have recommended the dose.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free, and the booster dose provides an extra layer of protection.

Booster doses are available every Wednesday in November and December (with the exceptions of the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas) at the Malheur County Health Department, 1108 SW 4th St., in Ontario, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, at the Ontario Municipal Airport firehouse, 3288 SW 4th Ave., in Ontario.

Booster doses help people maintain strong immunity to disease longer. The first vaccine series builds up the immune system to make the antibodies needed to fight the disease. Over time, the immune response weakens. A booster dose stimulates the initial response and tends to result in higher antibody levels that help people maintain their immunity longer.

While booster doses are available to everyone age 18 and older, they are strongly recommended for people older than 50, people age 18 and older who live in long-term care facilities and anyone who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The more people that choose to get vaccinated, the safer our communities will be for all of us,” said Rachel Banks, Public Health Director, Oregon Health Authority. “This review and subsequent approval of booster doses helps us loosen COVID-19’s grip on our communities and it will ultimately safe more lives.”

COVID-19 vaccination clinic Thursday

A drive-through COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinic will be held Thursday, Oct. 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Malheur County Fairgrounds, 790 NW 9th St. in Ontario. Moderna and Johnson and Johnson boosters will be available, as well as all doses of all three vaccines, and vaccine recipients will receive a $25 gift card.

Enter through the southern entrance to the fairgrounds, off 9th Street, and follow signage and verbal instructions. There will be two lines for vaccines, in an effort to move the line more quickly, but don’t forget to allow for an observation period lasting 15 minutes after your injection.

Reminder: if you have already received a dose, or two doses of vaccine, please bring your vaccine card, or show a photo of your vaccine card, to save time.

For information about who qualifies for a booster dose, follow the links on this post.

This will be the last drive-through event at the fairgrounds this year, due to cooler temperatures.

Weekend peace of mind

If you have plans for the weekend, but want to make sure you won’t infect your friends with COVID-19, don’t forget the free testing and vaccine event happening today at the Malheur County Fairgrounds, 795 NW 9th St., in Ontario.

In partnership with the Oregon Health Authority, Malheur County’s ICS team, will be at the Fairgrounds until 4 p.m. today, and every Thursday, offering PCS tests with results emailed to the patient, and all three COVID-19 vaccines for those who wish to have one. Pfizer doses will be available to anyone age 12 and up (with parental consent required for those age 12-15). Pfizer third doses and booster doses will also be available to those who qualify. Details are here. Moderna doses will be available for people age 18 and up, and third doses are available for those who qualify. Booster doses are not yet approved for Moderna. J&J is available as a one-dose vaccine only at this time for ages 18+. $25 gift cards for every dose given. We hope to have Pfizer approved for ages 5+ late this month or early November, so stay tuned to malheurhealth.org for updates.

Leon is a Registered Nurse in the local Emergency Department. He sees patients come in with severe COVID-19 symptoms almost daily. He recently received his booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and said he made the decision to protect himself, his patients and his family, including a son who is too young to be vaccinated.

Please share these flyers with others, and help protect your loved ones from this virus.

Are booster doses available? Not yet

Medical experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration Friday recommended that people age 65 and older, as well as those considered at high risk of severe COVID-19 who’ve been previously fully vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, should receive a booster dose to help maintain the effectiveness of their vaccines over time.

The booster dose should be given at least six months after the second dose was received, and the FDA is reviewing the recommendation to determine whether to add this use to the Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine.

Booster doses have not been recommended for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It is expected that federal officials will consider booster doses for people who’ve received these vaccines in coming weeks.

The recommendations from the meeting are just the first steps in the process. No boosters will be available to Oregonians until the remaining steps in the process are completed. Here is what’s next:

  • The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will review the FDA’s recommendation Sept. 22-23. The CDC Director then considers the ACIP recommendation and makes any official CDC recommendation for use of boosters. It is anticipated that ACIP will provide additional guidance on who is considered at high risk of severe COVID-19.
  • After FDA and CDC decisions, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup meets Sept. 24 to consider federal recommendations for implementation in California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Once Western States issues a recommendation, the Oregon Health Authority will support implementation.

Booster doses are expected to be widely available through pharmacies, doctor’s offices and clinics, as COVID-19 vaccine is today.

For older adults and others living in skilled nursing facilities, their residences are equipped to provide booster doses once they are fully authorized.

Medical evidence shows that the COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective in preventing COVID-19 associated hospitalizations and deaths. The boosters were recommended because there was some evidence to show that the immune response the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine produces to protect against COVID-19 disease could begin to wane many months after a person was first immunized, especially in older adults. As with other vaccines, a booster shot will strengthen the body’s ability to prevent disease from the virus that causes COVID-19.

What is the difference between a third dose and a booster dose?

A third dose is specifically for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and may not have built up an adequate protective immune response with their first series of vaccinations. Currently, the only authorized third doses are for the Moderna and Pfizer Comirnaty vaccines.

Graphic repeats information in post and features an illustration of a woman wearing a mask with bandaid on right shoulder and watch on right wrist.
If you are moderately to severely immunocompromised, you qualify for a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Reach out to your health care provider or pharmacy, or come to one of Malheur County’s drive up testing and vaccination events on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Malheur County Fairgrounds, 795 NW 9th St. in Ontario.

The recommendation is for immunocompromised individuals to receive a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine at least 28 days after receiving the second dose in the series (for individuals 18 years and older for Moderna and 12 years and older for Pfizer Comirnaty).

At this time, the CDC does not have enough data to suggest an additional dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would produce an enhanced immune response in an immunocompromised person.

A booster dose is for people whose immunity may be fading after they complete their first vaccination series. There is currently no COVID-19 vaccine authorized as a booster.