Pettit: County health department COVID booster shot clinics to begin Wednesday; about 120 signed up
It’s full speed ahead for the dispensation of COVID-19 booster shots at the Genesee & Orleans Health Departments.
Public Health Director Paul Pettit, speaking at the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting this afternoon, said GO Health will be conducting its first booster clinic on Wednesday of this week – offering Modern, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer doses.
For Genesee County residents, that means traveling to the health department offices at County Building 2, 3837 West Main St. Rd.
“Booster shots are open for everybody now … and we have about 120 people signed up for the morning (on Wednesday) already – and that’s all Moderna,” Pettit said. “So, that’s obviously leading to some additional demand. But most of our pharmacies are vaccinating, so people are able to go there, usually 9 (a.m.) to 9 (p.m.).”
Specifics of the three booster vaccinations, all at no charge, are as follows:
- Moderna – 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Registration deadline, Nov. 3; appointments are limited). Open to those 18 and older with booster eligibility, including previous full vaccination with Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J. This Moderna booster shot registration must be at least six months after receiving the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer, or at least two months after receiving a single dose of J&J. You also must meet other eligibility requirements associated with age, work, or underlying health conditions as seen at: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/booster-doses.
- Pfizer – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. (Registration deadline: Nov. 3; appointments are limited). Open to those 18 and older with booster eligibility, including previous full vaccination with Pfizer, Moderna or J&J. This Pfizer booster shot registration must be at least six months after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or at least two months after receiving a single dose of J&J. You also must meet other eligibility requirements associated with age, work, or underlying health conditions as seen at: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/booster-doses.
- Johnson & Johnson – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. (Registration deadline: Nov. 3; appointments are limited). Open to those 18 and older with booster eligibility, including previous full vaccination with J&J, Pfizer, or Moderna. This J&J booster shot registration must be at least two months after receiving a single dose of J&J, or at least six months after receiving the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer. You also must meet other eligibility requirements associated with age, work, or underlying health conditions as seen at: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/booster-doses.
In all cases, proof of identity and original vaccination card (or other proof of your original full vaccination) will be required at the time of your appointment.
Pettit also said he expects to hear soon, possibly tomorrow, that the childhood vaccine for 5-11-year-olds has been approved.
“We’re ramping up and preparing to do some childhood vaccines, probably starting next week, if we get the vaccine in later this week,” he said. “We're going to be running those clinics kind of late afternoon/early evening to afford parents the opportunity to get home from work and come to the clinic if they want.
“Again, the primary focus with that age group, though, is not really to come to us. We'd rather have them go to their pediatrician, where there's a little more comfort and familiarity. Obviously, for those that have gotten child vaccines at that age, sometimes (it's) a little more tricky, especially in a mass setting …"
When asked about people “mixing and matching” the booster shots, Pettit said, “It’s really the ‘Wild Wild West’ on that.”
“I guess if you want to change it up and try something different,” he said. “I'm going to stick with what I got the first time because well, frankly, Moderna is holding up the best of all three.”
Pettit suggested that people speak with their doctors about whether they should switch from what they received the first time. He acknowledged that many people have switched from J&J because that vaccine “has held up probably the least over time now against the Delta variant.”
He said that most of the breakthrough cases (people getting COVID after being vaccinated) are with the J&J vaccine.
“They (J&J) probably should have just done two shots to start with,” he said. “Their two shots basically are the same efficacy as two shots of Moderna or Pfizer. But I think they wanted to offer a simpler path.”
On related topics, Pettit offered the following:
- Hospital bed capacity.
“As we get in the cold or flu season, you're going to get more and more people come in. I mean, obviously, what they'll (hospitals) start doing is backing off on elective surgeries and things to try to free up more bed capacity. You know, unfortunately, we're heading into the time when we get more access needs to the emergency room and bed capacities.”
- Current COVID cases.
“Cases are holding fairly steady – we had a little bit of an uptick, I think, over the weekend, compared to where we were last few weekends. But overall, we're averaging around 25 to 30 new cases a day, and on average around 200 or more as far as active cases of folks on isolation.
“Regionally, most people saw a pretty significant increase over the weekend with active cases. So, I mean, it could be attributed to people coming indoors; things closing up – getting a little colder out. You may recall last year, actually, Halloween-ish kicked off a lot of the activity; we had low numbers pretty much through most of October. And then once we got to Halloween, gatherings and parties and things started happening, and we started seeing an increase in numbers.”
- Nattural immunity.
“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) does not recognize natural antibodies for the purposes of avoiding vaccination or for avoiding quarantines, you know, unfortunately. And I think the reason for that is typically we develop antibodies for certain strains. If you have the alpha variant, it may be less effective versus new strains but still affords protection similar to the vaccines, especially in preventing severity of illness.
“There's a lot of debate over natural immunity versus the vaccines … it's kind of a controversial thing, because, you know, I think it's debatable, one way or the other … I think they've shown -- that the data shows -- that the vaccines provide better protection than natural immunity in this case with COVID, just due to the new variant, especially so. But if you had the Delta variant, I mean, you have immunity from it."
- New vaccine technology.
“I think this is really when you look at the way they were able to produce this vaccine so quickly. I mean, it's really due to the technology. And I mean, there's a lot of talk now to start using the mRNA approach for flu vaccines and other things. You know, if you think about the window, when they make a flu vaccine, you're looking at what was circulating over in Asia and China -- like coming off in January, February. I mean, they can wait now until April or May, and get the mutations in there, and they can produce a vaccine in a month or a couple months, You're going to get a better efficacy out of that vaccine.”