A booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now available in Josephine County for some residents.
A booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the Oregon Health Authority for people 65 and older; people living in a long-term care facility; people age 50-64 with underlying medical conditions; people age 18-64 with underlying medical conditions or who are at higher risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus due to where they work or live; and people disproportionately affected by long-standing health care inequities.
The booster dose can be administered six months or later following one’s second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, also known as Comirnaty.
It may take time for vaccine providers to administer the booster doses to everyone who is eligible. Josephine County Public Health requests patience as local health care providers do their best to provide residents with care.
Booster doses for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson / Janssen vaccines are still being reviewed and have not been approved.
“Those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines can be assured their vaccines are still very effective while they wait for information on booster doses,” said Dr. Leona O’Keefe, Josephine County Public Health deputy health officer. “While there is some evidence of mildly waning immunity against asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic infections, vaccines are still more than 90 percent protective against hospitalization and death from COVID-19 infections. For the minority who have breakthrough infections — an infection after being fully vaccinated — the risk of spreading disease is decreased by 70 percent due to the vaccine.
“Only 2.2 percent of vaccinated Josephine County residents have experienced breakthrough infections thus far.”
Third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have previously been approved for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. This third dose can be given 28 days or more after the second dose.
“There has been some confusion between the terms ‘booster’ and ‘third dose,’” O’Keefe said. “Booster doses are intended to remind the immune system of what the virus looks like and ‘boost’ the immunity back up to the high level it had after the first two doses. These are used when there is evidence of waning immunity over time.
“Third doses are intended for those who may not have had a full response to the first two doses due to a weaker immune system. These are used for those who have yet to reach maximum protection.”
The Pfizer booster is only available to those who initially received a Pfizer vaccine.
“The first and second doses of vaccines continue to be the strongest tool we have against the pandemic,” O’Keefe said. “If you have not yet received your first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to make a plan to do so. If you have a health care provider you trust, talk to them about your questions and concerns. You are welcome to phone our call center at (541) 916-7030 to ask questions. All vaccines are free and confidential.”
Visit co.josephine.or.us/COVID19 to schedule a vaccine appointment. Call (541) 916-7030 to ask questions, schedule a vaccine appointment or schedule a testing appointment. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are interested in monoclonal antibody treatment to decrease risk of hospitalization, call the Asante COVID-19 hotline at (541) 789-2813.
More information about booster doses and third doses can be found at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-booster-covid-19-vaccine
Second Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Information
If you receive the Pfizer vaccine, you will need your second dose about 21 days later. If you receive the Moderna vaccine, you will need your second dose about 28 days later. If you receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you only need a single dose.
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Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines
- Vaccination is the best way to keep yourself, your family and your community healthy.
- COVID-19 vaccines are 95% protective against COVID-19 infection and have undergone rigorous safety testing.
- COVID-19 vaccines are nearly 100% protective against death from COVID-19 disease.
- Learn more about Oregon's distribution plan here
Vaccination gives us hope that the pandemic will end, but in the meantime, we need to continue safety measures to keep the virus from spreading. Each measure is a step toward returning to “normal” life again. No single protective measure is perfect, but adding multiple layers of protection lessons the ability of the virus to spread and infect.
- Wear a mask
- Physically distance from others
- Wash your hands
- Avoid gatherings
- Stay home when you’re sick
Genetic Vaccines — What Are They?
Instead of using a viral (live or attenuated) vector to deliver SARS-CoV-2 virus genes to human cells, the genes can be administered directly as either DNA or RNA. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines available in our county are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines that deliver the spike protein gene. Once the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was known in January 2020, it was relatively straightforward to generate genetic vaccine candidates.
The mRNA vaccines are easier to develop and manufacture compared to other vaccine types as they do not require cultivating viruses in cells. This is why they were some of the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to enter human trials. However, no mRNA vaccine has previously been licensed and approved for humans and most experience with this technology in humans has been for the treatment of cancer. No steps in the safety and efficacy testing of the vaccines were skipped; rather, red tape was cut to allow the business side of the approval process to occur more quickly than usual.
The mRNA vaccines are taken up into cells, but do not need to enter the nucleus to trick the body into producing viral proteins, which then induce immune responses. RNA is particularly potent at inducing innate immune response, the earliest type of response to a pathogen that prevents spread within the body. The mRNA is used by the cell as a template to build a protein through the process of translation. These vaccines do not alter a person's DNA.