Providers waiting on green light for COVID booster shots

Sep 16, 2021

Pharmacists at Soldotna Professional Pharmacy prepare doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17.
Credit Sabine Poux/KDLL

Health providers are now administering COVID-19 shots to immunocompromised individuals who’ve already received their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Soldotna Professional Pharmacy co-owner Justin Ruffridge said his pharmacy administers multiple third shots, both Pfizer and Moderna, to immunocompromised individuals every day. Those third shots are meant to help them build more immunity to the virus.

But he said they’re still waiting on federal guidance on whether the general public should be receiving boosters.

“There is a question, I think, about what the overall goal of these vaccines is going to be," Ruffridge said. "If the goal is prevention of hospitalization and death, potentially a booster shot for the wide variety of people that got vaccines isn’t necessary. If it is reduced transmission and keeping COVID at bay, then maybe a booster shot is warranted sooner rather than later.”

The Biden Administration previously put forth a goal of Sept. 20 for booster shots to be available to the general public. But that date has been in flux as officials and scientists have debated the merits of getting the third shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends immunocompromised people get an additional dose of the vaccine 28 days or more after getting their first two shots. The CDC has a list of conditions online that might warrant getting the booster.

In the meantime, flu season is approaching. 

“There’s some talk about getting a combination COVID-flu vaccine here in the near future," Ruffrdige said. "But that remains unsettled, as well.”

State officials say, with few hospital beds available in the state, there’s now more reason than ever to get the flu shot. 

Providence Alaska Medical Center said this week it’s now rationing medical care as COVID-19 patients fill the hospital.

Central Peninsula Hospital spokesperson Bruce Richards said Wednesday that CPH is also overcapacity. But at the moment, the hospital is not turning away patients or implementing crisis-care standards.