Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots are now available locally. Here’s how to get one.

From the Star Press

MUNCIE, Ind. — As COVID-19 booster shots become more widely available, many local healthcare providers are beginning to see an increase in demand for vaccines.

Officials from IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, Meridian Health Services and Open Door Health Services told The Star Press they have all experienced a peak in interest in COVID-19 vaccines in recent weeks, especially when it comes to booster shots.

“When I’m out and about in the community, other than, ‘How are you doing, Jeff, at the hospital?’ the second question is now ‘How do I get my booster shot?'” said Jeff Bird, president of IU Health East Central Region. “I think the people that chose to get vaccinated, particularly the people at higher risk, those ages 65 and above, are very anxious to get their booster.”

At Meridian Health Services, Lisa Suttle, regional vice president of clinical services, told The Star Press that she’s already seen vaccine appointments increase due to the booster shot.

Two weeks ago, Meridian saw maybe a handful of Pfizer vaccine appointments. With booster shots becoming available, team members provided 39 Pfizer boosters and initial doses last week.

Recent studies from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that after being vaccinated for COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time. This is especially true when it comes to the delta variant.

“Data from a small clinical trial show that a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished their primary series six months earlier,” the CDC states on its website. “With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the delta variant.”

There are plenty of questions about a third round of COVID-19 vaccines, from what types are available to who can get one. Here’s what you need to know about the Pfizer booster shot:

While a booster shot and a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine might sound like the same thing, there is a slight difference.

Currently, both Moderna and Pfizer offer a third dose of their vaccines. A third dose is reserved for those who are immunocompromised. According to the CDC, immunocompromised people might not build the same level of immunity with a two-dose vaccine series, and need a third shot.

“It’s important to note that the recommended third dose of mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna) is for those who are immunocompromised and is not considered a booster dose,” said Ashley Wilson, vice president of operations at Open Door Health Services. “Rather, it is considered part of that person’s original series to get them up to fullest immunity.”

The CDC recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, whether it be Pfizer or Moderna, at least 28 days after a second dose. Patients should receive the same type of vaccine as their first doses.

Those who are immunocompromised include:

  • Patients who are currently receiving cancer treatment.
  • Those who have received an organ transplant or stem cell transplant (within two years) and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.
  • Those with primary immunodeficiency, including DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and more.
  • Those with advanced or untreated HIV infection.

When it comes to booster shots, only the Pfizer vaccine is available, but it is open to more age groups.

“The booster, on the other hand, is to provide a boost of immunity to those whose original protection may be waning due to the time elapsed since their original series,” Wilson said.

As for what makes up the booster or third dose, Wilson said it is the same makeup of the original mRNA vaccines.

Suttle, who received her Pfizer booster last week, said to expect side effects similar to the first two doses. “Several of us (received the booster) at Meridian and some had no problem, sailed through it, a little bit of pain at the site,” Suttle said. “Now myself, it was pretty similar to the second one. I did run a temperature, had some chills, just soreness, shakiness, that kind of stuff. It lasted maybe about 12 to 20 hours, somewhere around there.”