Local hospitals prepare for federally recommended COVID-19 booster shots

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Posted at 11:09 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 12:06:24-04

Top health officials in the federal government recommended Wednesday that adults who have taken the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines seek out a booster shot eight months after becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Following that announcement, St. Elizabeth Healthcare officials said they're evaluating what that booster shot process might look like.

"We're only adding protection that we will be able to fight this virus," said Angela Brunemann, director of St. Elizabeth's outpatient pharmacy. "I think it's very wise for everyone to understand this is a good thing. We want to get the booster, because it's showing that it's going to be needed."

Many hospitals in Kentucky have reached what Governor Andy Beshear called 'critical capacity' on Tuesday during a press conference.

Currently, the booster is only available for those who have had the Moderna or Pfizer two-shot inoculation. The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still up for debate.

"At this point, no, they're still looking at that," said Brunemann. "They do think that will require a booster, but because it was released later than Pfizer or Moderna, they're still doing studies on that."

So why are booster shots a discussion topic now? Health experts have reported a decreased efficacy in immunity to the COVID-19 virus, particularly in people who got the shot months ago.

Brunemann said the vaccine is now more widely available than it was months ago, which means booster shot administrations can be rolled out at larger sites like convention centers, arenas, or other sites for mass gatherings. It can also be done on a smaller scale as needed.

"Because things have changed in the fact of who we have available to help staff," she said. "We have more COVID cases in the hospital across the board. We have to reevaluate where the resources go."