The Biden Administration is moving forward with plans to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots beginning the week of Sept. 20. However, the World Health Organization is calling for a pause on the shots until 2022 to give people around the world an opportunity to get their first dose.
In Riverside County, health officials are continuing to administer the additional COVID shot to immunocompromised individuals.
“In Riverside County, we’re following the science,” said Dr. Shunling Tsang, Riverside County Deputy Public Health Officer. “We’re not doing boosters at this time. Currently, we are doing the additional dose, or the third dose, for our immunocompromised and immunosuppressed patients.”
Health officials said the additional dose is just that- a third shot of the same Pfizer vaccine given during the first and second shot.
“It’s actually the exact same dose,” said Dr. Tsang. “It’s giving the immune system a little bit of a kick to get them at the level that everybody else is at.”
Moderna announced on Thursday that the pharmaceutical and biotechnology company is developing a two-in-one vaccine booster shot that protects against COVID-19 and the flu. The new vaccine combines the current COVID-19 vaccine with a flu shot that’s under development.
Right now, the additional shot is only available for the Pfizer vaccine. Unlike the federal booster shot that will be given eight months after a patient’s second shot, the additional shot is available to patients less than a month after their second shot.
“28 days is the timeframe, so with Moderna or Pfizer- both mRNA vaccines- after 28 days from the second dose, you can get your third dose,” said Dr. Tsang.
Even with the availability of the third shot, health officials are still trying to encourage people to get their first shot.
“Right now the science is showing that the vaccines still work really well to protect against severe complications of COVID and death, and that’s why we still encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Tsang. “The main message for everyone right now is if you haven’t been vaccinated, please go get vaccinated.”