Here’s What You Need To Know About Getting Booster Shots In Cleveland!

FEATURED PHOTO: METROHEALTH INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST DR. AMY RAY

IdeastreamPublicMedia.org, By Lisa Ryan, Posted October 28th 2021

Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth doctors are hearing from eager patients who want COVID-19 booster shots now that more of them have been approved for use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots on Thursday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also expanded the emergency use authorization to include booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson brand vaccines. The organizations had already approved Pfizer booster shots last month.

“The most common question I hear is: Dr. Ray, do I need a booster shot?” said MetroHealth infectious disease specialist Dr. Amy Ray.  

The CDC is recommending booster shots for people older than 65 and at-risk adults older than 18. This was already the guidance for patients who received the first two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr. Ray recommends talking to your doctor to determine if you should get the booster shot because everyone’s situation is different.

She uses CDC guidance and individual patients’ needs to determine whether a booster shot is right for them. If the patient is at risk due to health conditions or his or her workplace, Ray recommends booster shots, she said. 

“If I’m talking to a 45-year-old who is otherwise healthy and working from home, they have an option to get a booster, but their risk of exposure and their risk of severe infection is pretty darn low, and the effectiveness of these vaccines is so high,” she said. 

But if that same 45-year-old had diabetes or heart disease, or if they work in a healthcare setting, Ray may recommend a booster shot for that person, she said.

Regardless of the specifics of your health, the FDA recommends the booster shot be given six months or more after the patient’s initial vaccine sequence if the person is receiving Pfizer or Moderna. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be given two months after the initial sequence. 

The Clinic and MetroHealth are still waiting to administer non-Pfizer booster shot doses

The CDC is also allowing patients to mix-and-match their booster shots. So someone who received their first two doses of Pfizer can safely get Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. 

MetroHealth has the supplies ready to give Pfizer booster shots, but patients may have to wait to get Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, Ray said. This is why a person might choose to mix brands. 

“I think the primary driver is convenience, like a supply issue,” she said. “For example, my mother had Moderna, but if she went to a Metro pharmacy today, she could get her boost with Pfizer.”

The Cleveland Clinic is also still in the process of preparing Moderna booster shots, said Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious disease doctor at the clinic. The hospital does not plan on offering Johnson & Johnson booster doses because they haven’t done many initial shots of that brand, a spokesperson for the clinic said. 

“We have already been delivering the Pfizer boosters since that was approved nearly a month ago,” Englund said. “We are planning on delivering the booster shots for Moderna in the near future. People should be able to call and make appointments for those.”

Englund said another reason a person might switch brands is if they had side effects after their first shot or shots. 

“If someone had a reaction, maybe a prolonged fever for a couple of days with one of the brands, then they might feel more comfortable using a different brand,” she said. 

The shot dosage may actually change as well, depending on which brand you get. 

Moderna booster shots will be half the original dose, Englund said. The other two brands, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, will be full doses for the booster shot. 

People can get booster shots through their primary care physician or pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS.

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