Drugstore offers vaccine boosters

Supervising pharmacist Jeffrey J. Kirkby of Kinney Drugs on Coffeen Street in Watertown administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to a patient in January. Provided photo

WATERTOWN — Kinney Drugs has begun administering third doses of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that people whose immune systems are weakened because of cancer, organ transplants or other conditions should receive a third shot.

The agency announced Wednesday that the booster should become available to other groups next month.

According to John M. Marraffa, Jr., vice president of healthcare strategy for Kinney Drugs, pharmacies started Aug. 13 administering third doses to those who are immunocompromised.

“We’re prepared; just like we were for the first and second dose, we’re prepared for that additional booster dose for all of the population once those recommendations are given,” he said.

Those who fall in one of the immunocompromised conditions can sign up via Kinney’s website and book an appointment at the Kinney pharmacy of their choice with the time and vaccine they want. It’s recommended that people get the matching vaccine to their first series, so if they got Pfizer for their first two doses, they should remain with Pfizer for the third dose. People are also free to walk in to a Kinney location to receive a dose without scheduling an appointment if they do not care to select a time slot.

“We actually made it much easier than the first go-round because the first go-round it was very restrictive as to what needed to happen with appointments,” Mr. Marraffa said. “Those looking to get the third dose are required to fill out a self attestation prior to making their appointment, and if they choose the walk-in option, there’s an attestation that they would sign when they get to the pharmacy.”

While restrictions are eased, immunocompromised patients are reminded that they must wait 28 days from their last dose before receiving another. Moderate to severely immunocompromised people include those who have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood, received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system, received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system, have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency such as DiGeorge or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, have an advanced or untreated HIV infection, or are in active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress immune response.

Mr. Marraffa noted that in terms of coadministration, it is acceptable to get the COVID vaccine, whether it be the booster or first and second doses, along with a flu shot.

“Now that we’re entering flu season there’s a lot of flu activity happening and people tend to get protected for flu around this time of year so we want to make sure everybody kind of understands that as well,” he said. “The CDC came out and said that they can actually be given on the same day. There’s no time limit for a wait in between either of these two vaccines, which is very good.”

Information on Kinney Drugs’ COVID vaccinations can be found here: https://secure.kinneydrugs.com/pharmacy/covid-19/covid-19-vaccinations/vaccination-eligibility/.

Patients are encouraged to speak with their healthcare providers about their medical conditions and whether getting the additional doses is appropriate for them. According to Mr. Marraffa, supply for the vaccines is plentiful, so there is no concern in that regard.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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