By SARAH FLOWER
The Food and Drug Administration meets today to discuss vaccines for school-aged children. KSUT speaks with Chandler Griffin of San Juan Basin Public Health about preparing for this, plus an update on booster shots and the Durango clinic held over the weekend.
Chandler, we’ve got a lot to catch up on today. Last week, the news and headlines were riddled with updates on COVID-19 booster information, and mixing and matching. I know, down at the La Plata County Fairgrounds this past weekend, you guys gave out a ton of boosters.
Chandler Griffin, SJBPH
We were very encouraged to see great turnout. As you may have seen in the news, the CDC authorized booster doses of the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines. This past Thursday, San Juan Basin Public Health and other providers in the region quickly began administering those boosters over this past weekend. Over a thousand of those shots were given across San Juan Basin Public Health’s jurisdiction. We know that people have questions about who is eligible. For adults 18 years of age or older, people who originally received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you are eligible for a booster dose of any of the three vaccine types, as long as it’s been at least two months, since you got your original dose of Johnson & Johnson. For people who originally received the Moderna or the Pfizer COVID vaccines, you’re eligible for a booster of any of the three vaccine types, if you are 65 years of age or older, a high risk worker, if you’re living or working in an institutional setting, you’re eligible, or if you’re 18 years of age or older, with an underlying health condition. A couple of those conditions would be obesity, diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart or kidney disease. If you’re 18 or older, and you’ve completed your Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series, you’re eligible for a booster of any of the three types. For the folks who are health care workers, teachers and daycare staff, grocery store workers, people in long term care facilities and other congregate settings. If you’ve already finished your Pfizer or Moderna series, you are now eligible for a booster of any of those the vaccine types. You can always check our website SJBpublichealth.org for the eligibility information for vaccine. All three vaccine types are widely available, not just for people who are eligible for boosters, but for people who are unvaccinated or still partially vaccinated.
The ability for you and your team to administer over 1000 doses in a weekend as the Moderna and J&J were just announced on Thursday, that’s a lot of background work that goes in to having it ready to launch by Friday.
It is, and something that was really cool was we had about 60 Medical Reserve Corps volunteers at the fairgrounds clinic this past Saturday, helping administer the boosters and also the first and second doses. And I just think it’s really inspiring that every time we sound the call that so many local volunteers are willing to give their time and talent to help keep our community safe and healthy. And the clinics continue, please come out for a booster and if you’re unvaccinated now’s the perfect time to come in and get that done.
Parents across the nation are eagerly anticipating a meeting that’s happening today with the Food and Drug Administration in terms of approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11. What can you tell us about what you’re anticipating and what your team is doing at San Juan Basin to prepare for this information?
So we know a lot of parents and families have been looking forward to being able to get their young children vaccinated. If the FDA authorizes the vaccine for the young adolescents, then the CDC advisory committee will meet to review that and vote on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. So that’s November second and third. We’re just all watching that, and if the CDC authorizes it, we will be prepared alongside our partners and other providers to help vaccinate the young kids as quickly as possible.
Chandler Griffin, the communications director for San Juan Basin Public Health, anything else you want to add for us today.
We continue to be in an elevated wave with the Delta variant. Hospitals are definitely strained across the state. The vast majority of these COVID-19 hospitalizations are in the unvaccinated population. We have a public health advisory in place. It’s really important, whether you’re vaccinated or not, put that mask on. We strongly advise that regardless of your vaccination status, and layering that protection with the vaccine is the best thing that you can do to have a healthy fall and winter season.