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NDDoH prepares for rollout of COVID-19 booster shots

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The North Dakota Department of Health is preparing for the now FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine booster shot.

The Department of Health as well as providers are preparing to move into the booster shot phase for people who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

As of now, the CDC recommends people 65 years and older, residents at long-term care facilities and those 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions get the booster.

But Immunization Director Molly Howell has expanded that list.

“That includes people18 to 49 who have underlying medical conditions that may put them at increase risk for COVID and people 18 to 64 who are at increased risk for COVID 19 exposure and transmission based on their occupational or institutional setting,” said Howell.

At this time, the booster shot is only for people who initially received the Pfizer vaccine and are six months past being fully vaccinated.

Howell says they anticipate beginning the shots next week, but the No. 1 priority now is vaccinating people who have not received their initial dose.

“Our hospitalization data, the vast majority of people who are hospitalized in North Dakota, it’s stressing our capacity have not been fully vaccinated. And so that is the number one priority for vaccination,” says Howell.

The Department of Health says they’ve heard from people who are hesitant that they’d rather take their chances with COVID and receive the Monoclonal Antibody treatment. But it’s not that simple anymore.

“We have a substantial reduction in Monoclonal antibodies that is available to us and that supply is not meeting the demand that we have within North Dakota,” said Tim Wiedrich, NDDoH Health Resources and Response Section Chief.

The department says do not run out and get the booster today as providers and health units have to make adjustments over the next week to prepare.

Howell says they’re anticipating future approval for booster shots for both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

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