PROVIDENCE – Booster shots of Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine are available in Rhode Island for residents 65 and older, and high-risk individuals following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, the R.I. Department of Health announced Friday.
The boosters, available as of today, must be administered to individuals at least six months after their primary series of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shots.
The department of health said the new booster shot eligibility will apply to an estimated 130,000 Rhode Islanders.
Eligible individuals include those 65 and older, as well as residents in long-term care settings; people aged 50 to 64 years old with underlying health conditions; those aged 18-49 years old with underlying medical conditions, based on their individual health benefits and risks; and those aged 18-64 years old who are at high risk of exposure due to an occupational or institutional setting.
“Rhode Island was well prepared for COVID-19 booster shot administration. I am pleased to see that eligible Rhode Islanders are already stepping up to get their booster shots,” said Gov. Daniel J. McKee in a statement. “We had the infrastructure and strategy in place to respond swiftly to the approval from CDC, FDA and [the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices] and ensured boosters could be administered as soon as possible. Rhode Island continues to lead the nation in vaccinations and testing and we will continue to lead as we begin administering booster shots.”
Due to the approval of the booster shots, the department said that it expects demand for vaccinations to be higher for the next six weeks.
The federal approvals include the FDA giving emergency use authorization of Pfizer vaccine booster shots and the CDC’s final guidance issued Thursday on who is eligible for the booster. The ACIP also met Thursday to vote on guidance and clinical recommendations.
The R.I. Department of Health said that it is the state’s policy to wait on both the CDC and ACIP before opening availability to those eligible.
On Friday afternoon, the Woonsocket-based CVS Health Corp. announced it is now offering COVID-19 vaccine boosters at select CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations, totaling 5,000 stores across the country and 24 in Rhode Island. The company said those who are eligible for the Pfizer booster can log onto CVS.com to make an appointment.
“Advanced scheduling is strongly recommended for individuals looking to receive the booster shot to ensure that it is available at the pharmacy location of their choice,” said CVS in a statement.
CVS said it has administered more than 34 million COVID-19 vaccines since they were first made available.
“We have the experience and the infrastructure to play a leading role in administering booster shots to eligible populations,” said Troyen A. Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Health. “We also continue to make it as convenient as possible for the unvaccinated to receive their first doses.”
Update: Adds information on CVS Health Corp.’s offering of COVID-19 vaccine boosters at select locations.
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