MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — It's been more than a week since Pfizer booster shots were approved for certain populations. It can be given at least six months after a second dose.
At least 1.3 million Minnesotans who received the Pfizer vaccine are eligible to get a booster.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), people 65 years and older, residents in long-term care settings and people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster. Younger adults with underlying medical conditions or those at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their jobs may receive a booster.
"It isn't as urgent, but we still will encourage everyone to get that extra boost," said Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota — a membership association that provides services to long-term care communities across the state.
Cullen said they have been working closely with MDH throughout the pandemic and put together a booster vaccination plan. Only those who received the Pfizer vaccine can receive the booster shot at this time.
"In our settings, Pfizer was not given very much. So that's the only booster that's available now. There's only about 10% of long-term care residents that got the Pfizer shot," Cullen said.
According to Cullen, most long-term care residents received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Very few got Johnson and Johnson. Long-term care facilities have been coordinating with local vaccination providers to offer booster shots.
"We have enough vaccines for boosters right now but we know we had a lot of Moderna in our setting which means there will be a period of time where we'll need a lot of vaccines for boosters. So that's the other part of the equation we have to work with the health department to do," Cullen said.
According to an MDH spokesperson, "Minnesota has enough vaccine available for anyone who needs a shot, be it a first, second, or booster dose. An extensive network of vaccine providers are administering the vaccine, with many pharmacies, including major retailers like CVS and Walgreens, accepting walk-ins. Health care systems, community clinics, local public health agencies, the no-cost state locations including the community vaccination site at the Mall of America and the Vikings vaccine clinic before the October 10 home game, and others are offering boosters as well."
"We're still seeing maybe 30 or 40 vaccinations a day in a lot of our pharmacies but nowhere near what we were doing in the spring or what we would expect once Moderna gets approved as well," said Jeremy Faulks, director of specialty pharmacy for Thrifty White Pharmacy.
State data shows more than 90,590 third doses and boosters have been administered in Minnesota so far. The CDC recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least 28 days after a second dose.
"It's kind of been a ramp-up period again. So what we've seen so far is in North Dakota, they use a lot of Pfizer vaccine in their long-term care populations. So on the North Dakota side, we've been really busy," Faulks said.
Thrifty White Pharmacy is also preparing for the FDA to soon consider Pfizer's vaccine for kids ages 5-11. An advisory committee meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26.
"I think that'll definitely make November a very busy month," Faulks said.
Faulks recommends checking the Thrifty White Pharmacy website for the most up-to-date information for scheduling booster shots. They have also opened up their Plymouth location to make it easier for those in the metro area who are interested in getting their booster shots. Availability at the Plymouth location will open up more once Moderna booster shots are approved.
Minnesotans can visit mn.gov/vaccine to find a provider near them.
The FDA's vaccine advisory committee is planning to discuss boosters for Johnson & Johnson and Moderna on Oct. 14 & 15.