Health agencies wait for state guidance before administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster vaccine

Federal health officials approved an additional dose for older, more vulnerable Americans on Thursday.
Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 6:24 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsement of an extra dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for millions of Americans, many vaccine distributors are awaiting further guidance from the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services (DHS) before administering the shots.

The latest approval pertains to older and more vulnerable Americans, including people working in high-risk occupations, who received the Pfizer vaccine. However, the development was not the first step in providing additional doses to those most at-risk of contracting the virus.

Mount Horeb resident Patricia Latzke is one of more than 2.3 million Americans, according to the CDC, who already received a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“When the option for the third shot came up, I was really happy to get that done,” Latzke said.

In August, federal health officials gave the green light for people like Latzke, who takes immunosuppressant medication, to get an additional shot of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s vaccine. Health officials said for this particular group, the first two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were found to be insufficient, so a third dose was necessary for full protection at least 28 days following the completed series.

On Thursday, CDC officials widened the opportunity for another group to get the Pfizer’s shot 6 months after completing the second dose as protection against the virus wanes. The updated guidance includes those 65 and older, people who live in long-term care facilities, and most adults with underlying medical conditions. The CDC director also moved to include people at increased risk of infection because of their jobs, such as health workers.

However, local health systems, as well as health departments, cannot administer the additional recommended doses until the DHS issues new guidance.

“We currently offer booster shots for third doses for immunocompromised patients, and our plan is to open up the availability of booster shots to everyone who qualifies as soon as possible,” said SSM Health VP of Pharmacy Services Mo Kharbat.

Public Health Madison Dane Co. (PHMDC) also posted to its website Friday, stating it does not have booster shots available at any of its locations at this time.

A statement read in part: “We are waiting on further guidance and authorization from state and national public health agencies before we begin to give out booster doses.”

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake released a statement saying in part: “Once CDC’s clinical guidance becomes available, our experts will conduct a thorough review. After they complete their review, we will update our vaccination guidance accordingly.”

Some pharmacies, such as CVS and Hy-Vee, announced Pfizer booster shots are currently available.

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