PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It’s been four days since the FDA approved emergency use for seniors and others at high-risk to get a third Pfizer COVID vaccine dose.
Right now, eligible Arizonans like teachers, frontline health care workers, people who work in shelters or prisons, grocery store workers should be able to get that third Pfizer booster shot at local pharmacies and doctors’ offices.
Over the weekend, a local practice in Peoria reported giving the extra Pfizer booster to 200 people as of Friday.
Don Herrington, Arizona State Health Department interim director wants Arizonans to “Rest assured there is plenty of Pfizer vaccine in Arizona to accommodate not just those needing booster doses but those who need their first doses.”
When going online to make a COVID vaccine appointment, CVS has an option to choose “I need to schedule an extra dose.”
Walgreens has a similar option by having users answer the question “What type of vaccine is needed today?” and “COVID-19 additional dose or booster” is an option to click.
The emergency use authorization, granted last week, for the third Pfizer booster shot is recommended for those 65 and older who’ve had their second Pfizer shot at least six months ago. However, there are some younger age exceptions like people with a high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and people who are frequently exposed to COVID in a work setting. The extra dose is not authorized for kids younger than 18 years old.
Frank LoVecchio, D.O. for Valleywise Health’s emergency care sees COVID cases come into emergency room daily. To protect himself, staff, and patients, LoVecchio received his third dose of Pfizer last week.
“As of today, if you want to follow the FDA’s recommendation, wait. However, smaller studies show mixing and matching is even more efficacious than staying with the same MRNA vaccine. Getting Pfizer and Moderna together is like hitting the virus from two different sides. Studies show that if you got the J & J vaccine and a booster with Pfizer that you’re antibodies go even higher. However studies need to be made to see if it translates to decreasing deaths and hospitalizations.”
He said there’s a high interest among his frontline healthcare worker colleagues to get that third dose. LoVecchio was eligible for it because he works in a high-risk COVID-19 setting. If patients didn’t initially get the Pfizer vaccine, he explains what they should consider.
“In general to patients, I say look, Pfizer is the only one that’s recommended right now. Hopefully in the next month or two, Moderna will also be recommended as a booster so if you got a Moderna shot, a Moderna second shot, you should probably wait for the Moderna one,” he explained. “As of today, if you want to follow the FDA’s recommendation, wait.”
However, so far he’s not against mixing and matching Pfizer, Moderna, or J & J if you’re in a high-risk category. “To my colleagues, I say there are small studies, less than 100 people, that if you mix the two, you can get a higher antibody response, and a higher antibody response usually means more protection. So I wouldn’t be surprised if months from now if more people were recommending mixing because they attack different sides (of the virus),” he explained.
Bottom line, he recommends if a health care provider will give you a Pfizer booster regardless if you initially got Moderna or Johnson and Johnson, go for it. He noted that more studies need to be made to see if that third Pfizer dose translates to a decrease in deaths and hospitalizations. So far, his advice doesn’t line up with what the FDA is has given emergency approval.
Right now, federal recommendations are pending if those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines should get an extra booster shot too. AZDHS said anyone seeking guidance about if they should get a third booster dose at this time should contact their healthcare provider.