Health

Wahzhazhe Health Center expands patient eligibility for COVID-19 booster vaccine

Osage Minerals Council Chairman Everett Waller receives a COVID-19 booster shot from the Wahzhazhe Health Center. Courtesy Photo/ON Communications

In following updated recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Wahzhazhe Health Center is expanding eligibility for patients to receive the COVID-19 booster vaccine.

On Oct. 21, the CDC announced its recommendations to expand COVID-19 booster eligibility to include adults between the ages of 18 to 65 who live in long-term care environments, who have underlying medical conditions or live and work in high-risk settings.

In a statement, the CDC said: “There are now booster recommendations for all three available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States. Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.”

The WZZHC’s expanded patient eligibility for COVID-19 booster vaccines are as follows:

 For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

● 65 years and older

● Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings. “People in long-term care settings – whether they are older adults or people with disabilities or chronic health conditions – have faced high risks from COVID-19. The best way to mitigate these risks is vaccination of residents and staff” according to the Administration for Community Living website.

● Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions. According to the CDC website, those medical conditions include cancer, chronic kidney/ liver/ lung diseases, diabetes (type 1 or 2), heart conditions and immunocompromised states, solid organ or blood stem cell transplant patients, and Pregnant and recently pregnant people (for at least 42 days following end of pregnancy).

● Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

For the nearly 15 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

According to a news release, ON Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear received his COVID-19 booster dose after carefully reviewing CDC data and recommendations. “I strongly encourage reviewing the recommendations put forth by the CDC and FDA to make the best decision for yourself and your family,” Standing Bear said in a statement. “I’d like to share my gratitude to Dr. (Amanda) Bighorse and the Wahzhazhe Health Center’s team for their continued efforts to keep our communities safe.”

The CDC also issued the following statement on COVID-19 boosters: “Millions of people are newly eligible to receive a booster shot and will benefit from additional protection. However, today’s action should not distract from the critical work of ensuring that unvaccinated people take the first step and get an initial COVID-19 vaccine. More than 65 million Americans remain unvaccinated, leaving themselves – and their children, families, loved ones, and communities – vulnerable. Available data right now show that all three of the COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized in the United States continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and reduce the spread of the virus and help prevent new variants from emerging.”

For more information from the CDC on COVID-19, visit online: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/about-covid-19.html