SIOUX CENTER—COVID-19 booster shots are rolling out in the United States, including through Sioux Center Health.
A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine used to boost one’s immunity.
According to a plan announced Aug. 18, all U.S. adults who received a two-dose vaccine of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine would be eligible for an additional injection eight months from when they got their second shot.
It was just a few days earlier, however, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a third shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for a more limited population — people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.
“We’re working through what that means, along with all the other health-care systems in the nation,” said Sioux Center Health CEO Cory Nelson. “Currently, only those who are immunocompromised are eligible for the booster. We are giving shots to those individuals, if they got Moderna.”
Nelson said community members who received the Pfizer vaccine and fit the eligibility requirements may contact Hy-Vee for their booster shot.
Although Sioux Center Health injected 1,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there is not a booster yet for that version.
Immunocompromised patients are eligible for the booster now and do not have to wait the eight months because data shows that many immunocompromised patients have had weak responses to the initial doses of the vaccine.
“Giving a third shot has shown to improve their immune response,” said Dr. Scott Rens, family physician and Sioux Center Health medical clinic director.
Nelson said some people may feel they’re immunocompromised but may not qualify based on the CDC guidelines, which Sioux Center Health is following.
“We’re asking them to contact their primary care provider to discuss what that means for them,” Nelson said.
The CDC guidelines on what it means to have a compromised immune system are people who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, such as DiGeorge syndrome and Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection.
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.
The CDC’s recommendation to get the booster is limited to adults 18 and older for the Moderna vaccine because that vaccine has not been authorized for adolescents as of yet. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for adolescents 12 and older and adults.
Because the bulk of Sioux Center Health’s vaccines began in February-March, those seeking the booster but are not immunocompromised will not be eligible for the booster until the October-November time frame approximately.
“That time frame will also depend on when and how many boosters we’re allocated but is something we’re anticipating to have,” Nelson said. “We’ve been following the CDC guidelines throughout this process, which is indicating the booster is the best practice to make sure an individual’s system receives that extra boost through the shot to help prevent the negative aspects of what the COVID-19 virus can do.”