HOT TOPIC #56: October 28, 2021

Posted October 31, 2021 at 10:38 am by

COVID-19 updates from San Juan Coun­ty around sub­jects on the minds of islanders

New FAQ on Mod­er­na and J&J Boost­er Dos­es, Pedi­atric Dos­es, and More…

There are lots of devel­op­ments around both vac­cine boost­ers and vac­cines for younger kids. This Hot Top­ic will attempt to sum­ma­rize the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and dis­cuss plans for upcom­ing vac­cine clin­ics in the islands.

Q: Who is eli­gi­ble for boost­er dos­es for the Mod­er­na or Pfiz­er vaccines?
A: First off, there are sev­er­al groups of peo­ple who the CDC is say­ing should get a boost­er shot, as they are at the high­est risk, and have the most to gain from a third shot. These groups are:

  • Any­one who received their sec­ond dose of Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na COVID vac­cine at least six months ago, and  
  • Are age 65 or old­er, or
  • Are age 50–64 and have an under­ly­ing med­ical con­di­tion, or
  • Are age 18 or old­er and live in a long-term care facility

In addi­tion, the CDC is say­ing the fol­low­ing groups may get a boost­er shot, as they are at a low­er, but still increased risk:

  • Any­one who received their sec­ond dose of Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na COVID vac­cine at least six months ago, and 
  • Are age 18–49 and have an under­ly­ing med­ical con­di­tion, or
  • Work in cer­tain high-risk set­tings (pri­mar­i­ly schools or healthcare)

Full details on eli­gi­bil­i­ty are avail­able here. Note that approval has been giv­en to obtain either the Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na boost­er, regard­less of which of the two vac­cines you obtained originally.

Q: Where should I get my booster?
A: Many local providers and phar­ma­cies are offer­ing COVID vac­cine (see list at the bot­tom of this page for full details). In addi­tion, San Juan Coun­ty will be offer­ing month­ly Mod­er­na clin­ics on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands begin­ning the week of Novem­ber 15th. Almost 3,000 appoint­ments for the Novem­ber boost­er clin­ics are now open at: https://www.sanjuanco.com/1737/COVID-Vaccine-Info. In addi­tion, a lim­it­ed num­ber of John­son and John­son appoint­ments are now open as well (see ques­tion below for more info on John­son & Johnson).

Q: What about the John­son & John­son vaccine?
A: Any­one who received their dose of John­son and John­son vac­cine over 2 months ago is approved to (and should!) obtain a boost­er dose of any of the three approved COVID vac­cines. There is some ear­ly data that sug­gests obtain­ing the Mod­er­na vac­cine may offer the high­est lev­el of pro­tec­tion, but the impor­tant thing if you were orig­i­nal­ly vac­ci­nat­ed with John­son and John­son is to get a boost­er of any kind. Note that staff of San Juan Coun­ty pub­lic schools who received the John­son & John­son vac­cine are wel­come to sign up for either Mod­er­na or John­son & John­son boost­ers through the Coun­ty web­site, but also will be con­tact­ed by their school lead­er­ship with details about on-site vac­cine clin­ics for school staff to be held lat­er in Novem­ber and ear­ly December.

Q: How impor­tant is it to get a boost­er dose?

A: At this point, it seems clear that any­one over 65, any­one over 50 with a severe under­ly­ing med­ical con­di­tion, and any­one who was vac­ci­nat­ed with John­son & John­son should def­i­nite­ly get a boost­er. Boost­ers are less crit­i­cal for oth­ers who are eli­gi­ble and are not need­ed at this time for those who are not cur­rent­ly eli­gi­ble. Over­all, sci­en­tists are pleased by the effec­tive­ness and dura­bil­i­ty of the vac­cine, and some cur­rent research is sug­gest­ing that two or three dos­es may be suf­fi­cient to pro­vide ade­quate pro­tec­tion for some time to come.

Q: How are the side effects of the third dose?
A: While stud­ies are ongo­ing, it appears that boost­er dose side effects are rel­a­tive­ly mild, per­haps com­pa­ra­ble to the ini­tial or sec­ond dose. 

Q: Will I have to wait for 15 min­utes after receiv­ing a boost­er dose?
A: Yes, guide­lines for boost­er shots are iden­ti­cal to pre­vi­ous doses.

Q: What about kids under the age of 12, are they eli­gi­ble yet?
A: At the time of writ­ing, final CDC approval of the Pfiz­er vac­cine for ages 5–11 has not yet been grant­ed, how­ev­er it is expect­ed with­in the next week or so. These pedi­atric dos­es will be small­er than the adult dos­es offered to date, and will require two dos­es, spaced at least three weeks apart. Once approved, San Juan Coun­ty will be offer­ing pedi­atric Pfiz­er clin­ics in Novem­ber (and then sec­ond dose clin­ics at least three weeks lat­er). Once approved, details and reg­is­tra­tion links will be avail­able at: https://www.sanjuanco.com/1737/COVID-Vaccine-Info. Par­ents are also encour­aged to con­tact their child’s health­care provider to dis­cuss vac­ci­na­tion options.

Q: How impor­tant is it for my child under the age of 12 to get the pedi­atric dose?
A: Very impor­tant. Almost 35% of recent COVID cas­es in San Juan Coun­ty have been in unvac­ci­nat­ed chil­dren under the age of 12. While the impacts of the ill­ness are often quite mild in kids, symp­toms are more severe in a small num­ber of chil­dren. In addi­tion, unvac­ci­nat­ed kids are a high risk for trans­mis­sion to adults, who more fre­quent­ly expe­ri­ence far more seri­ous symptoms.

The islands have a very high vac­ci­na­tion rate for chil­dren age 12–18, and this has been an enor­mous part of our mid­dle and high schools remain­ing open and rel­a­tive­ly unim­pact­ed by COVID this fall. There have been more cas­es in our ele­men­tary schools and get­ting our younger island kids vac­ci­nat­ed ASAP should be a top pri­or­i­ty for our community.

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