Following CDC and FDA Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer Third Dose Vaccinations, AHN Will Begin to Administer Booster Shots to Those Older than 65 Years and High-Risk Populations
PITTSBURGH (September 27, 2021)– Following emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series on Friday, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) clinicians will begin to provide boosters today to expanded eligible groups including those over 65-years-old, individuals from 18 to 64 years with underlying health conditions and those who are at increased risk of COVID-19 transmission from their occupation, such as frontline healthcare workers.
AHN will host a series of employee-only vaccination clinics across its hospitals while also offering scheduling online and via phone to newly eligible groups for booster shots. Eligible patients can schedule by calling their primary care physician’s office, visiting the Network’s online scheduling portal at ahn.org/coronavirus/vaccine/schedule or accessing their MyChart accounts. COVID-19 boosters will primarily be administered across primary care and hospital-based vaccine clinics.
Only individuals who initially received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination series will be eligible for their booster shot as part of this latest EUA; patients must wait at least six months from their second vaccine dose to also be eligible.
“As one of the most prominent COVID-19 vaccines administers in the region, AHN is uniquely positioned to provide booster shots swiftly and efficiently to this newly expanded eligible group. We’ve been preparing for months to transition vaccine supply into the primary care and outpatient offices as well as our hospital-based clinics to help ensure seniors, essential workers and those at highest risk have timely and convenient access to booster shots during yet another critical time of this pandemic,” said Amy Crawford-Faucher, MD, family care physician and vice chair of the AHN Primary Care Institute.
To date, more than 680,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 while more than 4.5 million people have died from the disease worldwide. However, since the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations, just 55.5 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated according to Johns Hopkins data. Amid the Delta variant, these numbers have resulted in the latest COVID-19 surge across the country, with hospitalizations occurring predominately in unvaccinated populations.
Data released from the CDC in August noted a 30 percent decrease in vaccine effectiveness against the COVID-19 Delta variant among its studied cohort of approximately 4,000 frontline healthcare workers who received their initial vaccinations in December 2020. Another CDC study found 25% of new infections between May and July of this year were among fully vaccinated people signaling the potential need for an added layer of protection against the Delta variant as well as forthcoming strains. However, it’s important to note that receiving the COVID-19 series, both first and second doses, remains the most effective way to prevent transmission, severe illness, hospitalization and death even against forthcoming strains.
“We strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to receive their booster shot to protect themselves and help to minimize the risk of wide-spread community transmission, hospitalizations and severe illness. As the holiday season quickly approaches, receiving the full series of the COVID-19 vaccine is the best thing someone can do to save lives, decompress hospital systems and help bring the pandemic to an end,” said Imran Qadeer, MD, chief medical officer of AHN’s Allegheny General Hospital.
In August, Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines received EUA as booster shots for immunocompromised individuals. Pfizer’s clinical trials in particular documented that a third dose in its vaccination series spurred a more than threefold increase in antibodies against COVID-19. AHN began has administered nearly 700 booster shots to immunocompromised patients to date.
Those receiving their third dose may experience mostly mild to moderate symptoms which will often mimic the side effects originally felt during the first and second doses i.e. soreness at the injection site, feeling of general malaise for one to two days, etc. Doctors say these side effects once again signal the expected immune reaction.
For more information on AHN and the Network’s coronavirus resources, please visit https://www.ahn.org/coronavirus.html.