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The Burlington County Health Department is now administering a newly approved additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine to people with weakened immune systems at all its vaccine clinics and has started planning to dispense recommended booster doses to other fully-vaccinated persons later this fall.
“Vaccines are proven to be safe and effective protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant, and we continue to encourage those who haven’t gotten their first or second dose of vaccine to do so as soon as possible,” said Dr. Herb Conaway, director of the Burlington County Health Department. “We’ve also learned that people with weakened immune systems can benefit from an additional dose and that shot is just as safe, so we’re administering them to those patients now.”
Currently, additional doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are only authorized for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, including patients undergoing cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood, organ or stem cell transplant recipients taking medicine to suppress the immune system, active or untreated HIV patients and patients receiving high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress immune response.
Those who are eligible should wait a minimum of 28 days after receiving their second shot before getting an additional dose of either Moderna or Pfizer, and it is recommended that patients receive the same vaccine as their first- and second doses.
To accommodate moderately to severely immunocompromised patients, the Health Department is making sure its four fixed vaccine sites and all its pop-up clinics have extra supplies of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and additional staff.
Burlington County’s fixed site clinics run on the following schedule:
All pop-up clinics in Burlington County and elsewhere can be found at: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/finder Appointments can be made online at that site or by calling 1-855-568-0545. Walk-ins without appointments are also permitted.
People seeking an additional dose are not required to bring a prescription or proof of medical condition but are asked to bring their vaccine cards or to assist staff with ensuring they receive the right vaccine. Those without cards will not be turned away.
People who are not immunocompromised are not eligible for additional doses of vaccine and should not seek them at County clinics.
The FDA and CDC announced that distribution of booster shots individuals fully-vaccinated by either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will likely begin on or about September 20, and Conaway said the Health Department has started actively planning to meet that challenge.
More than 278,000 Burlington County residents have now received at least one dose of vaccine already, amounting to over 70% of those eligible for the vaccine.
“A growing body of evidence supports the need for booster doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and we’re actively planning for the task of vaccinating large numbers of people again. We will be ready here,” Conaway said. “We’ve come a long way since the pandemic started last year and we will continue to take every action needed to protect and assist our residents.”
Burlington County Health Department nurses administer vaccine earlier this year during a pop-up vaccine clinic at the Kennedy Center in Willingboro.