By Gina DiPietro, Novant Health Healthy Headlines
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Anyone 16 and up can now receive a COVID booster at Novant Health, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strengthened its guidance on who should get one. All 16- and 17-year-olds are currently eligible to receive a Pfizer booster at least six months after the second dose in their initial Pfizer vaccine series, while booster-eligible adults have the option to choose which COVID booster they receive.
People 18 and older “should” get one six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC said.
The importance of getting vaccinated is only highlighted by the emergence of the new omicron variant, which originated in South Africa.
“I strongly encourage the 47 million adults who are not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to vaccinate the children and teens in their families, as well,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Information on how to schedule a COVID booster is below. And keep in mind, all COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone — even people without insurance.
Why do I need a booster?
Boosters are needed because the potency of the vaccines wane over time. Decreasing antibodies isn’t unique to the COVID vaccines, said Dr. David Priest, Novant Health chief safety, quality and epidemiology officer. Take the flu shot, for example, which people are encouraged to get each year.
“What a booster does is increase the amount of neutralizing antibodies, making it less likely that someone would have a serious illness that results in hospitalization – or worse,” Priest said. Data shows people who are 65 and older need a booster more than any other group, he added.
“The small number of people who are vaccinated and have to be admitted to the hospital are generally over the age of 65. They were vaccinated early in the pandemic and often have other medical issues,” Priest said.
People who are “profoundly immunosuppressed” are also strongly encouraged to get a booster.
“If you’ve had an organ transplant, are receiving chemotherapy or living with uncontrolled HIV, the booster is even more important because you generally don’t respond to vaccines in the same way,” Priest said.
Schedule your booster today. It’s free.
Eligible for a booster? An appointment is required, but you don’t need to be a Novant Health patient to schedule.
Ways to schedule include:
– MyChart is the best way to schedule an appointment. Anyone can create a MyChart account by visiting MyNovant.org. Appointment availability can be accessed under Visits > Schedule an appointment > COVID-19 Vaccine.
– GetVaccinated.org: Anyone can schedule an appointment online.
– Primary care clinics: established patients are able to call their primary care clinic to schedule an appointment at that clinic, if it is offering the vaccine, or at the nearest Novant Health vaccination site.
– Those who do not have access to the internet or a primary care provider can call 855-NH-VAC-4U (855-648-2248) for scheduling assistance.
What’s this I’m hearing about a second booster?
Some people with weakened immune systems will become eligible for a second booster dose — administered at least six months after their initial booster shot, the CDC said. Immunocompromised individuals became eligible for a booster in August, meaning the earliest someone could receive one would be in early 2022.
“Any patient who has a history of being moderately to severely immunocompromised should discuss whether or not they are good candidates for a second booster with their health care provider,” said Dr. Charles Bregier, Novant Health medical director of corporate health.
“And get one, if recommended,” he added.