AUSTIN, Texas — Booster shots have now been endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for older and vulnerable Americans.
The CDC advisers said Thursday that boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.
So, when will booster shots be available in the Austin area? Austin Public Health fielded some questions about booster shots at their weekly COVID-19 update, however, the experts said they're still waiting on guidance to administer the shots.
Since the federal administration announced that booster shots were being considered, Austin Public Health (APH) officials said they have been preparing for the rollout.
Cassandra DeLeon with APH said at the Sept. 24 briefing that the agency has opened two additional sites these last two weeks in preparation for the rollout of booster shots. She also said they are looking into additional locations to administer the shots and additional staffing resources.
However, APH is in a holding pattern as they await guidance.
"We are still waiting for final guidance," said Adrienne Sturrup, interim APH director. "We haven't gotten the guidance on how to implement boosters safely. And as soon as we get that guidance, we will be ready to provide booster vaccines to our community."
Sturrup also said they are engaging with community partners to ensure that booster shots are administered in an equitable way.
Another question at the top of mind for many people is what the booster shots mean for those who did not get the Pfizer vaccine to begin with. When asked whether those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine can receive a Pfizer booster shot, Sturrup said that's still up in the air.
"We know that the recommendations are out for Pfizer," Sturrup said. "When we get that final detail about the mix and match possibility, we'll have that information rolled into our communication plans and our operations will be ready to support. But we just don't have the guidance yet."
Beyond booster shots, APH is stressing that people who haven't received any vaccine need to go get it.
"Really, our big focus right now is to make sure that everyone has that layer of initial protection from [a] COVID vaccine so that everyone can have that ability to know that they're safe," DeLeon said.
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