DURHAM, NC (WTVD) — After the CDC and FDA gave the green light to new, bivalent COVID-19 doses last week, health departments and pharmacies in the Triangle have begun administering injections.
“The phone is ringing off the hook as we’ve had almost 100 calls today. So we’re planning everything. We’re fully booked until I think Saturday,” said Sree Bommu, chief pharmacist at Durham Pharmacy.
Wednesday morning they received 300 doses of Pfizer, the first two of which were given to Ted and Alice Barrow.
“Our age and the fact that we’re going to do some traveling. And it just seems sensible and safe to do,” Ted Barrow said.
Alice Barrow added: “My last (booster) I slept a lot the next day and had a little chill, but if that happens that’s fine. I’m willing to just relax and wait it out. But it wasn’t bad . None of them were bad.”
It is the third booster for each.
“I had COVID in early April and I attribute it to the booster shots, it was just a mild case,” Ted Barrow said.
The new bivalent doses are believed to provide greater protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, which make up the majority of new COVID cases.
“Before the new booster, they protected against most variants. But what we’re seeing now with COVID, the most common variant is the omicron variant. The sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5. And our previous boosters didn’t offer much protection against these variants,” said Dr. Stefanie Etienne, the interim medical director of Wake County Health and Human Services.
Wake County expected to begin its new booster appointments on Wednesday; however, due to a delay in the arrival of Moderna’s doses, this was postponed to Thursday. Wake County has 1,200 Pfizer bivalent doses and 600 Moderna bivalent doses, and opened appointment applications Wednesday afternoon. They will be offered at all five vaccination sites in the province.
Health departments in Durham, Johnston and Cumberland counties began offering doses on Wednesday, and the Lee County health department is sharing plans to begin Friday.
Elsewhere, the Eastern Carolina Medical Center in Benson offers both bivalent doses, the Hayes Barton Pharmacy in Raleigh is set to begin Thursday, and the Central Pharmacy in Durham is set to begin Friday. Other pharmacies contacted by ABC11 said they had not yet received the updated doses.
“We were doing almost 400-500 (shots) a week when the (initial) booster came out, I expect the same from this one,” said Bommu of interest.
The availability of these vaccines coincides with the flu shots that are now being administered.
“It’s safe to get both the flu and the COVID vaccine at the same time. If people are worried they can wait a few days. But it’s considered safe to get both,” Etienne explains.
The Pfizer doses are available for people ages 12 and older, while the Moderna injections are available for people ages 18 and older. In Wake County, people have a choice of which shot they prefer, although it is recommended that you choose the same version as your original doses.
“It should be at least two months after completing a primary series of the Pfizer or Moderna, or two months after receiving a booster from one of those vaccines,” Etienne said.
For those who have recently had COVID, Etienne said it is recommended that people wait until they have no more symptoms before seeking a booster.
On Wednesday, NCDHHS shared a promising update on the state’s COVID statistics, showing a sixth consecutive week of declining new cases and the fifth consecutive week of a declining percentage of people showing COVID symptoms in hospital. The number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 has decreased by 107 people in the past week.
Click here to find a site for a shot.
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