Get your second booster on Wednesday

All brands and all doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including boosters and second boosters are available for anyone eligible at the Malheur County Health Department on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No appointment is needed. The Health Department is at 1108 SW 4th St. in Ontario, Ore., across the street from the TVCC baseball field.

CDC updates booster guidance for certain people

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement yesterday updating its COVID-19 vaccination guidelines to include a second booster dose for some adults, as well as for immunocompromised people age 12 and older.

The following second booster doses can be received at least four months after receiving any previous booster dose. Read on for details. 

  • People age 50 and older may receive either a Pfizer or Moderna booster dose. 
  • Immunocompromised people ages 12-17 may receive a Pfizer booster dose. 
  • Immunocompromised people age 18 and older may receive either a Pfizer or Moderna booster dose. 
  • Anyone age 18 and older who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their primary and booster doses may receive either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as an additional booster.

Second COVID-19 boosters now available

Second COVID-19 boosters are now available for people over 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals after federal authorization this week.

According to newly-adopted protocols, individuals who meet the criteria and received an initial booster dose at least four months ago can now get a second booster dose of either of the mRNA vaccines – made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – to increase their protection against severe disease from COVID-19. Adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine at least four months ago can now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Centers for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration experts say booster doses of the mRNA vaccines have been shown to increase immune response among individuals who completed primary doses of the shots as well as prevent severe disease among those infected with the virus. They also found no safety concerns linked with the second boosters.

Oregon Health Authority officials say there’s more than enough vaccine supply in Oregon to accommodate the groups eligible for second boosters, and new demand should help providers use up some of their excess vaccine stocks.

In Malheur County, 4,824 people, or 44.1% of those eligible, received their first booster dose, according to OHA data. Of those, 59.8%, or 3,523 are over 50, and eligible for their second booster four months after their first.

OHA strongly encourages everyone eligible in Oregon to get their primary doses of the COVID-19 vaccines followed by a booster shot. Those most at risk for the virus are people who have not yet received a primary series of the vaccines.

Vaccines are offered every Wednesday at the Malheur County Health Department, 1108 SW 4th St., in Ontario, Oregon, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on a walk-in basis. Call 541-889-7279 for more information.

Vaccine, booster and travel guidance for people vaccinated against COVID-19 outside of the United States

For many who travel to and from the United States, whether they are seasonal migrant workers or frequent business flyers, entering the country isn’t as straight forward as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Homeland Security has issued vaccination requirements for these groups of people* to enter the U.S., whether they enter by plane, boat or across a land border.

This requirement has posed particular difficulties for migrant agriculture workers who must be vaccinated for their first day on the job but don’t always know what the requirements are, according to Deisy Flores, community health worker and field navigator for the community-based organization Mano a Mano.

“They are often not informed of which vaccines will be accepted in the United States, so when they arrive here, many of them realize that the vaccine they got is not accepted, and they are asked to be vaccinated again with the U.S.-approved vaccines,” said Flores. In addition, vaccines are not as available in some countries, and workers are “surprised to see how fast and easy you can get a vaccine” in Oregon.

So what vaccines can someone receive elsewhere in order to enter the U.S., whether for work or pleasure?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) accepts any vaccine received outside the U.S. that has been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, as well as one vaccine recently authorized by Canada’s drug regulator, Health Canada. These include:

  • Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)**
  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca
  • Covaxin
  • Covishield
  • BIBP/Sinopharm
  • Sinovac
  • Noravax/Covovax
  • Medicago/Covifenz (Canada)

**Single-dose vaccine (the others are two-dose vaccines)

To enter the United States, non-U.S. citizens and others must be fully vaccinated with the primary series of one of the above vaccines accepted by the CDC. A booster dose is not required for entry into the U.S.

Fully vaccinated means it’s been:

  • 14 days since your dose of an accepted single-dose primary vaccine
  • 14 days since your second dose of an accepted two-dose primary vaccine series
  • 14 days since you received two doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart.

If you don’t meet these requirements, you are not considered fully vaccinated and cannot enter the United States.

For anyone in the U.S. who initially received some vaccinations outside of the country, understanding what additional doses or boosters you are recommended to receive can be difficult. Check out this two-page infographic below for guidance.

Booster doses provide additional protection against COVID-19

As of February 10, 2022, more than 90 million people ages 12 years and older in the United States have received a COVID-19 booster dose. In Oregon, 59.3% of those eligible have received a booster dose. Only 42.5% of those eligible have received a booster dose in Malheur County, significantly lower than the state and national numbers.

Booster eligibility data for people ages 12 years and older are now available on COVID Data Tracker. See the data.

Booster doses, as well as first and second doses, are available at the Malheur County Health Department, 1108 SW 4th St., Ontario, every Wednesday from 8:30 to 4:30, free of charge, and with no appointment needed.

Booster doses are safe and effective, and work to help prevent severe illness and death in those infected with the the virus that causes COVID-19. If you love someone who is at high risk for severe illness or death, encourage them to seek out vaccination.

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Moderna vaccine receives full FDA approval

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a second COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna’s vaccine has met the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality required for approval. Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine has been available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 18 years of age and older since Dec. 18, 2020.

The FDA’s safety analysis of the Moderna vaccine included approximately 15,184 vaccine recipients and 15,162 placebo recipients 18 years of age and older. More than half of these participants were followed for safety outcomes for at least four months after the second dose. Approximately 7,500 participants originally assigned to receive the Moderna vaccine in the blinded phase of the clinical trial completed safety follow-up for at least 6 months after the second dose.

The most commonly reported side effects by clinical trial participants were pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, chills, nausea/vomiting, swollen lymph nodes under the arm and fever. 

The FDA conducted its own benefit-risk assessment using modeling to predict how many symptomatic COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and deaths from COVID-19 the vaccine in individuals 18 years of age and older would prevent versus the number of potential myocarditis/pericarditis cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths that might be associated with the vaccine. FDA has determined that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis in individuals 18 years of age and older.

More information may be found at this link.

Drive through vaccine event is Saturday

The Malheur County ICS team will host a drive-through vaccine clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations Saturday, Dec. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ontario Municipal Airport firehouse, 3288 SW 4th Ave., in Ontario.

For the COVID-19 vaccine, all three brands are available, and all doses, including pediatric doses for children ages 5-11.

Every person who receives a COVID-19 vaccination will receive a gift card. Any vaccinated person who brings an unvaccinated person for their first dose will also receive a gift card. 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.”

Vaccine clinic on tap for Saturday, Nov. 20

Malheur County Health Department, in cooperation with the Malheur County Incident Command Team, will host a drive-through vaccine clinic for people age 5 and older Saturday, Nov. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ontario Airport Firehouse, 3288 SW 4th Ave., in Ontario, Oregon.

If you’re already vaccinated, but bring a person for their first COVID-19 vaccine, both of you will receive a $25 gift card.

All three COVID-19 vaccines will be available; first doses, second doses, third doses and boosters. To view the flyer, go here:

A second drive-through event will be held three weeks later, Dec. 11, at the same location, also from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is no charge for the COVID-19 vaccine.