Highland Medical Center COVID Booster Shot Information
As COVID booster shots become approved and available, local medical providers are receiving questions as to who can and should receive them, and when they will be offered. I spoke with Dr. Jennifer Beverage, Chief Medical Officer of the Highland Medical Center to learn more. She first began by explaining the approval process.
“The process is, the FDA Advisory Committee will review the data for safety and efficacy – is it safe to give, is it effective. Once the Advisory Committee reviews that, they make a ruling. That is a committee on the FDA, so once the committee approves it, it goes to the full FDA to approve.”
“The next step after the FDA is the ACIP, so it’s the American College of Immunization Physicians, to review the data again. Again, that’s a committee that reviews it, makes a recommendation for the ACIP to vote, and then to the CDC.”
“So the CDC will take all of that information and then put out the final directions on boosters. Once all those steps are met and the CDC has the plan, when to give it and how much, they put those recommendations out. Then the Virginia Department of Health has to agree and adopt those recommendations, so that we, Highland Medical Center, can place orders for the boosters that we’re expecting to give in the community.”
“The only approved booster currently for the COVID vaccine is Pfizer, and it’s six to eight months after your second dose of Pfizer, so based on what we have given at the clinic, that timeline hasn’t been met yet.”
That timeline of when boosters are received and can be given at HMC is based on the order of the vaccines that were initially available.
“Initially we just had Moderna, and then through the process of requesting vaccines through VDH were then able to get, later in the process, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. The Pfizer boosters based on what we were giving will not be due until December.”
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots are still currently working through the approval process.
“We do understand that once the Moderna is approved, we do have individuals who would fall within that recommended timeframe, so we are working on our plan, so as soon as we have those vaccines and it is fully approved, we will release that information.”
Patients who are eligible for a booster will be contacted by HMC.
“I think the biggest piece we want everyone to realize is, those who will be approved for the booster are going to be in the same order that they received their first and second doses. So we have those lists and we will be calling the patients. Patients do not have to call in, as soon as we have the plan we’ll release that and then start calling patients to schedule.”
She provided the current guidance on who should receive boosters first.
“Anyone 65 and older should get the booster shot; anyone who is 65 and younger that has immune-compromising conditions, which those are listed on the CDC, they could call in for that information; or who are in occupations that place them at high risk, such as grocery store workers, or any first responders, or medical providers.”
“We are watching the data closely to make sure that we’re giving the vaccines as they’re directed to us and as soon as we actually have the vaccine from VDH in the clinic, we don’t like to schedule them and have to call and say I’m sorry you know we need to reschedule, so that’s why we’ll call you.”
“It is also flu season, so please see our influenza vaccine schedule and call to get on that schedule, or stop by during those drives.”