Some Iowans will have to wait for COVID-19 booster shot despite doses available

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DES MOINES, Iowa — For many in the medical field the choice is simple regarding booster shots. “If I was above 65 or worked in health care and was exposed to active COVID, I’d certainly recommend strongly considering getting that booster dose,” said Mark Thayer, who serves as practice administrator for the Newton Clinic in Jasper County.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 28, the Polk County Health Department and Newton Clinic will provide Pfizer booster shots for the following people at least six months after their second dose:

  • Iowans 65 and older and long-term care residents
  • Ages 18-64 with underlying medical conditions
  • Ages 18 and up with increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to their occupational or institutional setting

The boosters are only available for people who originally received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients will not be given COVID-19 booster shots until authorized by the FDA and CDC.

While the Newton Clinic expects around 500 Pfizer doses for the booster, it isn’t sure how many residents will be lining up. “The good majority of our patients that got immunizations above the age of 18 were the Moderna, and most of them are not eligible at this point,” said Thayer.

The major reason behind low Pfizer booster demand in Jasper County is simple. The Pfizer vaccine requires a freezer temperature at negative 70 degrees Celsius, while Moderna needs a temperature of negative 20. That level is much more manageable for smaller rural areas without access to ultra low freezers. Thayer said, “We do anticipate in the coming weeks the age group 65 and above will be eligible for the Moderna booster as well.”

For those who qualify for the Pfizer booster shot, it is recommended that you bring your vaccination card to the appointment. You can schedule an appointment in Polk County at www.immunizepolk.com and in Jasper County by contacting the Newton Clinic or Hy-Vee Pharmacy.

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