May 29, 2024

File Photo by Scott McCloskey
A COVID-19 vaccination site will remain at the former Michaels at The Highlands.

WHEELING — Booster shots to bolster the immune system of those more than half a year out from their second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available today.

Booster shots were given the green light late last week for several groups: individuals 65 years of age and older, individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19; and individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19.

The booster shot is only available to those more than six months past their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. A vaccination card is required. Doses will be distributed at the Community Vaccination Center at the Highlands from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The booster is available by walk-in appointment. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain available.

Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department Administrator Howard Gamble said the last category offered broad interpretation for who was eligible for the booster.

He said people should consult their doctors before deciding to get or pass on the shot.

“It can be very broad. The obvious ones are healthcare workers, clinic workers; those would be the very obvious choices,” Gamble said Friday. “Then you can get into people who run a shelter, a facility that does drug and alcohol treatments, or a children’s home … those would be occupations that would benefit the 18-64 crowd. It can be very broad.”

Gamble said the guidelines the department received did not clearly define which frontline professions were recommended to get the booster.

“They may have been doing that so we don’t pigeonhole or knock out someone who could benefit from this,” he said.

Gamble stressed that 18-to-64-year-olds should check with their personal care physician to see if any underlying health conditions expose them to risk from COVID that would be alleviated with a booster.

“We need you to make sure you have a discussion with your primary care physician, who says, ‘Yes, you have a benefit to getting this (booster), or no, as your physician, I don’t think you should, you should wait,’” Gamble said. “… If your physician says this is to your benefit, it’s good.”

Gamble said he was surprised at the breadth of eligibility for the booster shot, but that Ohio County is expected to have the supply to provide boosters as needed.

“For it to be this broad, I wasn’t anticipating that,” he said. “We have built up a small supply to go for the first week, we pick up vaccines again during the middle of the week, and (it) will probably get a little larger into the next week, just anticipating. Supply-wise and clinic setup, we’re looking pretty good. It won’t be like before where we’re only giving 100 doses because that’s all the vaccine we had.”

The Marshall County Health Department will be holding a drive-thru booster vaccination clinic today at the Marshall County Fairgrounds. This clinic will be held from 1-5 p.m., or until their supply is exhausted. Photo ID and a vaccine card are required.

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COVID-19 Boosters Available Starting Today in Ohio County