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Local medical experts, pharmacies react to expected booster shot recommendation

The three COIVD-19 vaccines that have been approved for Emergency Use Authorization have not been approved to allow for booster doses.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — NBC News reports that federal agencies are expected to recommend most people should get booster shots eight months after their second dose. 

On Tuesday, during a briefing, the White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, said there will be a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday with federal agencies and that booster shots will be discussed. Psaki also indicated that President Joe Biden will speak after.

Booster shots only apply to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

"Essentially what a booster shot does is, it augments previously induced immunity that may wane or fade over time," said Dr. Thomas Russo of UB's Jacobs School of Medicine. 

Local health officials, we spoke to say they would like to see those who got the vaccine first prioritized for booster shots.

"Health care workers, those who are first responders and of course, our senior population and those who have underlying health conditions would probably be those who we might want to see inline first to get those booster shots," said Dr. Kevin Watkins, the public health director in Cattaraugus County.

But, there's still a lot we don't know about a third dose.

"It's important to note that it remains unclear how beneficial booster shots would be at this point," Russo said. 

Booster shots should not be confused with the additional dose that the CDC has recommended for those with underlying health issues.

The New York State Health Department has authorized that third dose 28 days after their second dose. 

The state also says it's planning for booster doses.  

Local health officials say they envision a return to things we saw earlier in the vaccine rollout.

"I would envision that there will be pop-up clinics as well as the mass vaccination clinics opening up again," Watkins said.

According to CDC data on the state's Vaccine Tracker, 70 percent of Western New Yorkers 18 and older are fully vaccinated -- 78 percent of healthcare workers in WNY are fully vaccinated.

The state health department issued this statement: "The New York State Department of Health is actively engaged in booster dose planning. We will not issue guidance on this subject until booster doses are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidelines for administration based on CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations. When this information is available, we will review and act swiftly.”

Tops issued this statement: "Tops continues to follow CDC guidelines and is awaiting official direction from them. As of Friday, August 13, we were directed to only provide the 3rd dose for those who were immunocompromised and to consider counseling patients who are interested in boosters that may be forthcoming. We anticipate a return of those patients who previously received their vaccination from us and are preparing accordingly should boosters be approved at a later date."

The Erie County Health Department issued this statement: "Any guidance on additional COVID-19 booster shots for the general public would be established by the FDA, CDC, and ACIP. That guidance has not yet been issued. Our department’s outreach would look much as it has looked since we received our first supplies of COVID-19 vaccine. That includes working with pediatricians and physician’s offices to provide vaccines; providing educational outreach through schools and community groups; and, setting up clinics and mobile clinics at locations throughout the county to improve access. A significant portion of Erie County residents still do not have a first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine and are thus much more vulnerable to moderate or severe illness, hospitalization and death if they are infected. Our efforts right now are focused on helping people to complete the primary vaccine series."

CVS issues this statement: "As we await further guidance from regulatory agencies, we’re fully prepared to play a leading role in providing booster shots. We’ve administered more than 30 million COVID-19 vaccines across the country, and immediately began offering third doses to immunocompromised individuals when authorized to do so."

Walgreens issued this statement: "At this time, an additional, or third COVID-19 vaccine dose is only recommended for moderately to severely immunocompromised people to make sure they have enough protection against COVID-19.  Walgreens is currently administering an additional dose of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals, following Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walgreens will continue to follow guidance from the CDC and FDA to administer vaccines to eligible populations."