By JAMES BELL
COVID-19 vaccine boosters are available now in Ellis County, but Ellis County Health Services officer Jason Kennedy said most vaccinated residents in the region remain protected by their earlier shots.
"Late last Friday, they approved booster shots, really kind of for anybody that was able to get the additional shot," Kennedy said.
Individuals over 12 can now recive a Pfizer vaccine booster, and those over 18 can receive Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters, he said.
While various health organizations at the state and national level have, over recent weeks, sometimes issued conflicting messages, Kennedy said the essential information to know is the boosters are available, but vaccines for children under 12 are not.
For those looking to get a booster shot, Kennedy said there are a variety of local options.
"We posted a couple of different locations or different options for people in town on our Facebook page," Kennedy said. "But essentially the private pharmacies, ... both Dillons locations, Walgreens, Walmart pharmacy, and then Ellis County Health Department, we are all providing booster dose vaccines as well as primary vaccines."
Further, he said the health department has each vaccine type.
"So right now, if you want a booster dose, come get one," he said.
And while he said there are currently rumors about the boosters being circulated, Kennedy said the boosters are safe and contain the same formulation as the original vaccine.
"I've seen some misinformation about this, that it's a new formulation or there's new chemical," Kennedy said. "There is nothing different or new about the booster doses. It is the exact same thing that was given as an initial primary dose. And so if if you didn't have any issues with the initial shot, come get your booster shot if you want it."
While he said the doses are ready for anyone, residents should not feel a need to immediately sign up.
"I will say that there is not a time-critical crunch to getting booster doses done right now," Kennedy said. "We don't see waning immunity with the initial vaccinations, we actually see them still very highly effective at that reduction in hospitalizations and really reduction in deaths."
He said residents curious if they should get a booster and when should consult their physician, but generally, the booster shots will benefit the public health.
"Boosters are a good thing," Kennedy said. "It is the exact same dose, there's nothing different about it, it will increase your level of immunity. It will hopefully continue to keep us safe here through the winter."
And the evidence is showing that even without boosters, the vaccines are remaining effective, he said.
"It's working well," Kennedy said. "And we're not seeing any changes to that. So (for) the people that aren't vaccinated. The vaccines work. The vaccines are safe."
But with massive amounts of information and disinformation available, he encouraged speaking with a physician to make the best possible health decision.
"It's pretty rare that someone just decides like some internet research, and then they're like, 'Oh, you know what, I'm gonna start treatment on my own cancer.' ... We go to the doctor. We trust the doctor to make the best decision because ... that's what they do. That's what they're good at. And so same thing with this.
"If you have questions, (call) your doctor."