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WATAUGA — AppHealthCare is awaiting further clinical guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide COVID-19 booster shots to to public.

On Sept. 22, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose, to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary vaccination.

Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said that the action to amend the EUA “demonstrates that science and the currently available data continue to guide the FDA’s decision-making” in relation to COVID-19 vaccines.

“After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” Woodcock said. “This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day.”

On Sept. 24, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices followed the FDA and also recommended booster shots for:

people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,

  • people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
  • people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and
  • people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

“I believe we can best serve the nation’s public health needs by providing booster doses for the elderly, those in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions and for adults at high risk of disease from occupational and institutional exposures to COVID-19,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in a statement. “This aligns with the FDA’s booster authorization and makes these groups eligible for a booster shot. Today, ACIP only reviewed data for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. We will address, with the same sense of urgency, recommendations for the Moderna and J&J vaccines as soon as those data are available.”

Once AppHealthCare has received guidance and recommendations from the CDC, the organization stated it will then be able to administer booster doses to individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine and meet the eligibility outlined.

Once AppHealthCare receives the clinical guidelines, they will communicate broadly about booster doses, including those who will be eligible. AppHealthCare posted on Twitter that they hope to begin administering booster shots by appointment on Sept. 27. A community member can make an appointment by calling (828) 795-1970.

“It remains critical that we continue to stress the importance for anyone who is unvaccinated, please get a vaccine as soon as possible. We urge you not to wait any longer,” stated Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare health director. “The vaccines are our best path forward, and they are continuing to help prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. At our clinics, we currently have Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson available and encourage anyone who is unvaccinated to get a vaccine today to protect yourself and our community.”

Megan Hayes, App State spokesperson, said the university is also able to scale up the administration of COVID-19 booster shots as needed and once guidelines are given.

North Carolina residents that need transportation assistance to vaccine sites can contact their local transit agency to help shuttle them to and from the location, the NC Department of Transportation stated in a press release.

The state-administered program has already helped transit services statewide pay for more than 10,000 people needing transportation to get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to NCDOT.

“We are working hard to ensure that transportation is never a barrier for anyone looking to get their vaccine shot, whether that be their first, second or a booster,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “If you need assistance receiving your shot, please contact your local transit agency.”

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