JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — Booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are now available in Josephine County for some residents, according to Josephine County Public Health.
This week, booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were been approved by the Oregon Health Authority for people 65 and older; people living in a long-term care facility; people age 50-64 with underlying medical conditions; people age 18-64 with underlying medical conditions or who are at higher risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus due to where they work or live; and people disproportionately affected by long-standing health care inequities.
The booster dose can be administered six months or later following one’s second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, also known as Comirnaty.
Health officials state that it may take time for vaccine providers to administer the booster doses to everyone who is eligible. Because of that, Josephine County Public Health is requesting that citizens remain patience as local health care providers do their best to provide residents with care.
“Those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines can be assured their vaccines are still very effective while they wait for information on booster doses,” said Dr. Leona O’Keefe, Josephine County Public Health deputy health officer. “While there is some evidence of mildly waning immunity against asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic infections, vaccines are still more than 90 percent protective against hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infections. For the minority who have breakthrough infections — an infection after being fully vaccinated — the risk of spreading disease is decreased by 70 percent due to the vaccine.
“Only 2.2 percent of vaccinated Josephine County residents have experienced breakthrough infections thus far.”
Third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have previously been approved for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. This third dose can be given 28 days or more after the second dose.
“There has been some confusion between the terms ‘booster’ and ‘third dose,’” O’Keefe said. “Booster doses are intended to remind the immune system of what the virus looks like and ‘boost’ the immunity back up to the high level it had after the first two doses. These are used when there is evidence of waning immunity over time.
“Third doses are intended for those who may not have had a full response to the first two doses due to a weaker immune system. These are used for those who have yet to reach maximum protection.”
The Pfizer booster is only available to those who initially received a Pfizer vaccine.
“The first and second doses of vaccines continue to be the strongest tool we have against the pandemic,” O’Keefe said. “If you have not yet received your first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to make a plan to do so. If you have a health care provider you trust, talk to them about your questions and concerns. You are welcome to phone our call center at (541) 916-7030 to ask questions. All vaccines are free and confidential.”
Booster doses for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson / Janssen vaccines are still being reviewed and have not been approved.
You can visit co.josephine.or.us/COVID19 to schedule a vaccine appointment or call (541) 916-7030 to ask questions, schedule a vaccine appointment or schedule a testing appointment.