Triangle-area doctors encourage booster shots as hospitals remain slammed

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – COVID-19 booster shots are now available for a select group of people.

Pfizer is the first of the three vaccines to get the green light for booster shots. However, doctors said Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shouldn’t be too far behind.

WakeMed started the week by opening COVID booster clinics. It is doing them by appointment only.

About half of the 2,200 appointments are taken so far.

“I think for the older population, 65-plus, that’s where we’re seeing most of our vaccine breakthroughs and our hospitalized patients. I think for them it provides maybe some peace of mind,” said Amanda Edwards, PA with WakeMed.

Those 65 and older who got their Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago are now up to get their booster shot.

“We know those older adults just tend to have quicker loss of immunity. That’s true not just for COVID, it’s true for the flu vaccine, it’s true for many vaccines,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe with Duke.

People in high-risk jobs, like Wolfe, are also now eligible for their Pfizer booster if it’s been at least six months since their first shots.

That’s because there is a risk of original doses losing effect over time.

“Health care workers were some of the first folks to receive the vaccine when they first rolled out and many of them are nine months out right around that timeframe of getting that initial vaccine series,” said Tatyana Kelly, vice president at the NC Healthcare Association.

More groups are expected to be able to get their booster soon.

“Look, it’s right now that we have a lot of delta variant still and if I can get someone that extra little bit of protection before the winter months come or before there’s any chance of it resurging, I think now is the right time,” said Wolfe.

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are also expected to have booster news soon.

“Be patient. The data on those two vaccines and the need and timing to boost is coming,” said Wolfe.

Not only are they encouraging boosters for those who are eligible, but they’re also still pushing the unvaccinated to get their shot.

Around 90 percent of the current hospitalized COVID patients at WakeMed are unvaccinated.

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