This is a community announcement from the Tompkins County Health Department. It was not written by the Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements for publication consideration, contact the Ithaca Voice at tips@ithacavoice.com.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department is alerting the community to NYS Department of Health guidance for booster dosing of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines after an initial 2-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine series. The following recommendations are for specific populations and those living or working in high-risk settings.  

The following populations are currently eligible to receive a booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their original Pfizer COVID-19 series: 

·        People 65 years and older should receive a booster shot. 

·        Residents of long-term care settings age 18 years or older should receive a booster shot. 

·        People aged 50-64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot. For a full list of medical conditions, please refer to the Health Department website

·        People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot. For a full list of medical conditions, please refer to the Health Department website.  

·        People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission due to workplace or institutional setting may receive a booster shot. This may include but is not limited to the following: 

o   Healthcare workers and first responders 

o   Individuals who work in long-term care facilities and nursing homes 

o   School and daycare staff working with students who are not currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine due to age 

o   Food and agricultural workers 

o   Grocery store workers 

o   Public transit workers 

If an individual has questions and/or is ready to receive their booster dose, they should contact their healthcare provider or local pharmacy. TCHD will share additional availability as future clinics are planned. For more information on vaccine availability in Tompkins County, visit the TCHD website

Vaccine booster shots are recommended because data indicates that the immune response may have waned and protection weakened six or more months after being fully vaccinated. Emerging data further indicates that receiving an additional, or “booster dose” may safely heighten the immune response, increasing the body’s ability to protect from severe COVID-19 disease. 

The recommendations above for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine “booster” is separate from the recommended 3rd dose of Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals who are immunocompromised. Please refer to the Health Department website for this previously announced criteria. 

Currently, additional data is being collected to determine recommendations for booster doses after an initial 2-dose series of Moderna vaccine or a single-dose of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.  

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “Booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine are being recommended for older adults, those with underlying health conditions, and individuals with increased risk of transmission at their workplace. If you are in one of these categories, we are recommending that you seek a booster dose through your healthcare provider, pharmacies, or upcoming local clinics.” Kruppa continued, “Booster doses are a safe and effective way for those at higher risk of infection or severe disease to increase their immune response.” 

“As a reminder, this is also the time of year when anyone 6 months and older should receive a flu vaccine. There is no required interval of time between receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and any other vaccine, such as the flu shot. If you have not received your first does of COVID-19 vaccine, it is not too late. Vaccines are available, safe and effective.” 

TCHD is reminding the Tompkins County community of the precautions that can be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19: 

·        Tompkins County continues to be under a mask advisory. Wear a mask while indoors and around others. 

·        Vaccines are readily available. Get vaccinated when you are able and share accurate information with others who are not yet vaccinated. For information on vaccines and local availability, visit https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/covid19popup  

o   Individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and are fully vaccinated with one of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) are advised to get a third dose of vaccine. Immunocompromised individuals should talk to their provider about a third dose, for more information visit: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/covid19vaccinefaq#3rddose  

·        Get tested if you are symptomatic or a close contact of a positive case. For more information on testing, visit: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/factsheets/coronavirussamplingsite#whentogettested  

o   If you are a fully vaccinated close contact of a positive case, TCHD guidance states that you should avoid contact with unvaccinated or immunocompromised individuals for the full 14-day period, even if you test negative.