Moderna, J&J booster shots now being given in Austin-Travis County

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After the FDA put a stamp of approval on both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots for eligible populations this week, clinics in Austin-Travis County are distributing those shots as soon as Friday. Pfizer booster shots have already been approved.

While the vaccine rollout in Austin-Travis County was bumpy back in February, health leaders say booster shot distribution will be much smoother for several reasons; there is much more widespread availability of the vaccine, there are more providers available to give vaccines and APH can use their existing frameworks to distribute the vaccine.

During a media Q&A Friday, Cassandra DeLeon, the director for disease prevention and health promotion at Austin Public Health, said they anticipate a surge of people will be eligible for their boosters, as APH distributed mostly Moderna vaccines at the start of the year. She asked that people check their vaccine card to see if they’re eligible.

“If you are in the categories that CDC is recommending to get the booster vaccine, it’s really important to look at the timeline and follow that,” DeLeon said.

Where can I get a booster shot in Austin-Travis County?

If you are eligible, national clinics like Walgreens and CVS announced they will be giving booster shots starting Friday in their pharmacies. There are more than a dozen CVS and MinuteClinic pharmacies in Austin and roughly 20 Walgreens pharmacies.

“Walgreens pharmacy teams are available to answer questions and make it easy to understand eligibility requirements and access COVID-19 vaccine, whether it’s a first dose or booster shot,” said Rina Shah, group vice president pharmacy operations and services, Walgreens.

Austin Public Health also announced Friday that they would be offering Pfizer, Moderna and J&J booster shots to people who are eligible. They ask that people bring their CDC vaccination card to show previous vaccinations.

Am I eligible to get a booster shot?

Here’s who’s eligible to get a booster shot right now, according to the CDC:

For people who got the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, and got their second dose at least six months prior, you are eligible if you are 65 years or older or if you are 18 years or older and the following applies:

  • You live in a long-term care facility
  • You have underlying medical conditions
  • You are at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting (such as healthcare and essential workers)

For people who got the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine, you are eligible two months after your first dose if you are 18 or older.

The FDA also announced it was okay to mix booster shots if necessary, however, the original product is preferred.

Will I experience side effects?

According to the CDC, you should expect side effects to be similar to when you got your first round of vaccines. Fatigue and pain in the arm were reported as the most common side effect. Other side effects felt less frequently were chills and new/worsened joint pain.

The CDC says most side effects reported were mild to moderate. Serious side effects are very rare but could happen.

Here are the most common side effects reported to the CDC after getting a Pfizer booster shot:

SYMPTOM18-55 YEARS OLD65-85 YEARS OLD
Injection site pain83%66.7%
Fatigue63.8%41.7%
Headache48.4%41.7%

While the data published right now on the effects of booster shots is only for people who got Pfizer booster shots, Austin Public Health told KXAN that they assume the CDC will have Moderna and J&J information published soon.

“Individuals are encouraged though to talk with their doctor if they are eligible to determine if the booster shot is appropriate for them,” a spokesperson for APH said.

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