Weber County officials prepare to offer booster COVID-19 shots
OGDEN — Health officials for Weber and Morgan counties are laying the groundwork to provide booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the general public once federal officials give the green light.
Weber-Morgan Health Department Director Brian Cowan expects formal approval soon, possibly mid- to late-September. “We are preparing to have larger-scale vaccination events available to our population when the approval comes through for third doses to all community members,” he told county commissioners on Monday.
Weber-Morgan Health Department officials have been administering third doses to those who are immunocompromised. But they haven’t yet started giving them to the broader public.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, said last week that the preliminary timeline calls for allowing booster shots to everyone who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines starting the week of Sept. 20. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses and those seeking booster shots would have to wait until eight months have passed since getting the second dose to get their third injection.
When third doses are formally permitted, “the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them,” said the HHS statement.
The clinics in Weber County that offer booster shots won’t be as big as the initial Weber-Morgan Health Department clinics at the Dee Events Center on the Weber State University campus in Ogden. “But we do plan on increasing the availability to help those people who are interested in getting that third dose,” Cowan said.
The Weber-Morgan Health Department website said more than 40 locations in the two counties now offer the COVID-19 vaccine and they should be able to help once third doses are available.
HHS said the level of protection against the COVID-19 virus offered by vaccines decreases over time. “Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout,” the department said.
Booster shots also would most likely be needed for those who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, HHS said.