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WDH outlines eligibility changes for COVID-19 boosters

The Wyoming Department of Health is announcing the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine boosters, based on national expert recommendations.

Wyoming State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist. (Wyoming PBS, Youtube)

The Wyoming Department of Health is announcing the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine boosters, based on national expert recommendations.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, State Health Officer and Epidemiologist with WDH, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added booster dose recommendations for the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) for certain groups of people to previous recommendations issues for the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer.

The updated CDC recommendations follow authorization by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

“Booster doses do just what the name implies: they ‘boost’ the strong protection the vaccines already offer. This ‘boost’ is especially important for those who are most likely to experience severe illness or exposure to the virus,” Harrist said in a written statement on Friday.

The WDH says that among people who received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, those eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their second dose include people who are:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18 and older who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18 and older who have certain medical conditions that make severe disease more likely
  • Age 18 and older with increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission due to jobs such as healthcare workers or because they live or work in settings such as correctional facilities

For people who previously received a Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

The CDC also approved a “mix and match” approach for booster doses, which means people may receive COVID-19 booster doses produced by a different company than what they were given earlier. For example, those who previously received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine may choose a booster dose of either a Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“We continue to see high numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Wyoming and the state’s low vaccination rates contribute to our vulnerability to the aggressive Delta variant,” Harrist said. “For those people who are not yet vaccinated, getting started with COVID-19 vaccines remains a key priority and the most important step available to help prevent COVID-19 illness.”

“COVID-19 vaccines continue to be safe and effective against COVID-19, including the variants, and are especially good at protecting against severe illness,” Harrist said.

Harrist noted all COVID-19 vaccine doses continue to be offered at no cost to those who receive them.

Ways to find where to get COVID-19 vaccines include:

  • Visit vaccines.gov or vacunas.gov online to search and find vaccine sites.
    Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or 822862 (VACUNA) to find up to three nearby locations that have vaccines available.
    Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 for phone-based help.
  • Harrist noted it is considered safe to get a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine dose at the same time.
  • A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after one dose of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.

More important details about the additional-dose recommendation for these specific individuals can be found at the CDC website.

More information from WDH about vaccination in Wyoming can be found at their website.

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.