Pfizer Vaccine, Bozeman Health

PharmD Jennifer Schultz, medication safety and quality specialist for Bozeman Health, holds a vial of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 17.

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Bozeman Health is preparing to administer third booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for eligible people, which include older people, adults with underlying health conditions and some frontline workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that certain eligible populations could receive a booster Pfizer shot, days after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the jabs.

The third shots are only approved for people who initially received a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC has yet to issue guidance on booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

The CDC’s announcement Friday is part of an effort to get the larger population booster shots, as evidence begins to present that vaccine’s efficacy can wane over time.

Starting Monday, Bozeman Health plans to host mass vaccination clinics at Deaconess Hospital to administer those third Pfizer vaccine doses, said Kallie Kujawa, the COVID-19 incident command lead for Bozeman Health.

The clinics are planned to be held at the main hospital lobby at entrance one and appointments are available online at healthygallatin.org or by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 414-2619.

The CDC said those who are eligible should get the third dose at least 6 months after getting the final dose of the two-shot vaccine.

That means eligible people who got the vaccine in March, or earlier in the year, could soon get the third shot.

The CDC recommends people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care facilities and people aged 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions should get the vaccine at least 6 months after the second dose.

Adults 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions, or frontline workers aged 18 to 64, may get a third dose 6 months after getting a second dose.

The third shots should boost the vaccine’s efficacy, which wanes over time, and offer added protections for people with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions who may be more susceptible to the virus.

The CDC said the booster shots should add another layer of protection against the delta variant.

As the county rolls out a third dose, 60% of the eligible population — everyone 12 years and older — has been fully vaccinated.

While breakthrough cases can occur, fully vaccinated individuals are still less likely to be hospitalized, become severely ill or die. Unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

In Montana, there have been 5,131 breakthrough cases, including 306 hospitalizations and 57 deaths since February, when the state began monitoring for breakthrough infections, according to the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

That’s among nearly 50,000 cases reported since mid-February. Only 21% of the deaths in Montana from April to September were in vaccinated people.

The data shows that overwhelmingly the vaccines do work, said Lori Christenson, Gallatin City-County’s public health officer, Friday during a press conference.

“The vaccine remains effective in terms of protecting against hospitalization and severe outcomes including death,” Christenson said.

This story has been updated to correct the percentage of people who are vaccinated who died of COVID-19. Separately, due to an editing error, this story has been modified to change language referring to older people.  

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Juliana Sukut can be reached at 582-2630 or jsukut@dailychronicle.com

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