The University of Arizona announced on Monday, Oct. 4, that booster shots for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be offered to qualifying students and faculty beginning Oct. 11.
As communicated by a press release, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, those eligible for booster shots include people 65 years and older or those between the ages of 50 and 64 who have underlying medical conditions. Additionally, people between the ages of 18 and 49 with either increased exposure risks or medical conditions may also have the opportunity to receive these shots.
Sara Little, the immunization and infection prevention manager at Campus Health and the UA's Point of Distribution vaccination site's nursing manager, provided insight into the purpose of these boosters.
“A booster dose is supplemental and given to people who had a normal immune response (which immunosuppressed people may not get) to initial vaccination but whose immune response has weakened over time,” Little said via email. “Immunity from some vaccines can wear off, and at that point, a ‘booster’ dose is needed to bring immunity levels back up, according to the CDC.”
As of right now, the university will only offer Pfizer booster shots, as Pfizer has been approved for these doses. However, both Moderna and J&J have also submitted applications for approval to the U.S. Federal Drug Administration and CDC.
“We are not authorized yet to give boosters to those who received the Moderna or J&J vaccines. However, that may happen soon,” Little said via email. “Both Moderna and J&J have submitted applications for booster doses and the FDA then the CDC advisory committees will review and make recommendations to their respective agencies.”
In the meantime, Little noted that there are other measures students can take to stop the spread of COVID-19 and remain safe.
“It is important to note that a booster dose of vaccine is just one of many ways to try and slow the pandemic and should be used in addition to measures such as social distancing, masking, getting as many people as possible vaccinated with the primary series, etc.,” Little said via email.
In addition to this new offer of booster shots, the university will continue to offer first doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to students and faculty. According to UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins's comments in Monday's press release, more than 75% of residents within Pima County over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The offering of Pfizer booster shots is one more step in the university’s continued attempts to reduce transmission rates of COVID-19 and promote public health throughout the community.
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