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.”

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.