As you may know, last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel endorsed booster shots for those over the age of 65 and high-risk individuals. Earlier this week, the CDC and New York State Health Department approved boosters for those who have completed the two-shot series of the Pfizer vaccine and who are over 65, those over the age of 18 with an underlying medical condition that increases the risks of severe illness from COVID 19, and those who are at a higher risk of exposure to COVID 19 through their employment and residents of a long-term care facility.
Ulster County has been preparing for several months to ramp back up our vaccination operations in anticipation of this guidance. Earlier this month, we re-opened our POD (Point of Distribution) at the Hudson Valley Mall. This site will allow for up to 1,500 doses to be dispensed a day. While we do not yet know what supply will look like, I can assure you that we will have the facility and staff ready to ensure that we can provide boosters in a fast and equitable way.
Below are additional details about booster shot eligibility based on the New York State Department of Health guidance we just received:
Booster Dose Eligibility
Eligible individuals must have received the Pfizer vaccine as their primary COVID vaccination series, and it must be at least 6 months since the series was completed.
The following individuals are eligible for a booster dose at NYS sites:
- Individuals 65 years of age and older at least 6 months after completion of the primary series
- Residents of long- term care facility 18 years or older at least 6 months after completion of the primary series
- Individuals 50-64 years of age with one or more underlying medical conditions* at least 6 months after completion of the primary series
- Individuals 18-49 years of age with one or more underlying medical conditions* based on individual benefit and risk
- Individuals 18-64 years of age who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting, based on their individual benefit and risk, including:
- An essential worker (frontline and non-frontline)
- An unpaid caregiver of a frail or immunocompromised person
- A paid or unpaid worker who interacts within less than 6ft of others
- Lives in a congregate setting (e.g. homeless shelter, correctional facility)
*Underlying medical conditions that can increase risk of moderate or severe illness or death from the virus that causes COVID-19 include:
- Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers
- Chronic kidney disease
- Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
- Liver disease.
At this time, all other fully vaccinated individuals, are not eligible for a COVID 19 booster including:
- All persons vaccinated with a primary series of Johnson or Moderna vaccine
- All persons who have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine primary series that has been listed for emergency use by WHO only and not by the FDA.
Booster shots will be administered in the same order that residents received their original COVID-19 vaccine. Like we did earlier this year, we will be sending out registration links via email as well as updating our website and social media channels as new information becomes available. We anticipate that this will mean we will distribute about ten thousand doses by the end of October.
As an important reminder, as of today only Pfizer has been approved for booster shots. In the coming weeks the FDA will also review booster shots for both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Until this authorization, only eligible residents who originally received the Pfizer vaccine will be able to obtain a third dose of Pfizer.
I want to remind you all of where we were earlier this year, with hospitalizations on the rise we had a tremendous lack of supply of vaccines. The lack of reliable doses made residents understandably both anxious and angry. Nine months later, Ulster County has a vaccination rate of 81%, making us among the top vaccinated counties throughout the State, our hospitalizations and positive rate are down, and this month students are attending in-person classes again.
We are not yet out of the woods and we will have more hurdles and challenges ahead of us, but I can assure that we are working day and night to continue to encourage residents to get vaccinated, provide booster shots, and work to keep our community safe during these uncertain times.
Beginning this Friday October 1st, the POD at the Hudson Valley Mall will be open on Fridays from 11:00am-7:00pm. We encourage people to make an appointment, but walk-ins are accepted. Follow the link below to register for an appointment this Friday. New links will be added to our website.
For additional information and to stay up to date, I encourage you to visit our website at http://www.vaccinateulster.com
Ulster County Executive