Clinics and pharmacies in Philadelphia began administering coronavirus vaccine booster shots over the weekend after federal regulators approved the additional Pfizer doses for select groups Friday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people ages 65 and older; residents of nursing homes; and those between the ages of 50 and 64 with underlying medical conditions “should” get a booster shot.
Anyone 18 and older who has a medical condition or works in a setting that puts them at a higher risk of exposure “may” also sign up for an additional dose, the CDC said.
In all cases, people should wait at least six months after their second dose, meaning anyone getting a booster dose now should have been fully vaccinated in late March.
The guidance around boosters only pertains to those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Federal officials said they will consider additional doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in the coming weeks.
Some people with conditions that compromise their immune systems were already authorized to receive third doses of Moderna or Pfizer.
Following Friday’s decision, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health advised vaccine providers with Pfizer doses to begin jabbing eligible residents.
“We all know how dangerous COVID-19 can be for older Philadelphians, those living in nursing homes, and those with underlying conditions,” Cheryl Bettigole, the city’s health commissioner, said in a statement.
“We can now be sure that they have the maximum level of protection, and I encourage everyone that’s eligible to seek out their booster dose as soon as possible,” she continued.
CDC officials said they hope the boosters bolster protection for vulnerable people and help prevent the spread of the highly-transmissible Delta variant.
A health department spokesperson was unable to provide a count Sunday of how many booster doses have been administered so far in the city.
The additional shots should be available anywhere offering the Pfizer vaccine; those interested can filter sites by brand of vaccine by going to www.phila.gov/vaccine or www.vaccines.gov. Like the initial doses, the booster shots are free.
Anyone getting a third dose is required to bring their vaccine card or a photo of their vaccine card to the clinic or pharmacy.
City-run sites have stickers which can be placed over cards that have been laminated, according to the health department. In addition, some vaccine providers can fill out a new card for those with laminated documentation.
Montgomery County will begin distributing booster shots Monday, and appointments are required for residents seeking out third doses, county officials said.
The county operates COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Bethel Community Church of Pottstown, the Human Services Center in Norristown, the King of Prussia Mall and the Willow Grove Parkside Shopping Center.
More than 12.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in Pennsylvania, and 85% of the state’s adult population has received at least one shot.
In Philadelphia, 84% of the 18-and-over population is at least partially vaccinated, and nearly 70% are fully vaccinated, according to health department data.