Cincinnati is behind on recalls, vaccines; who should get the second shot?
If you’re 50 or older, you’re among those who just received a green light from federal health officials for a second COVID-19 booster shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is updating its recommendations to allow some immunocompromised people and people over 50 to be eligible for another mRNA booster if four months have passed since their first. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the extra dose last week.
But should you get one? And if so, where?
A handful of the Cincinnati-area’s 16 counties trail the nation in getting booster shots, even though most counties trail the nation in vaccination rates. Two counties, Hamilton and Warren, have recall rates just above 50%.
The region’s record in recalls is better than its position in completed COVID-19 vaccinations, which lags the country, according to an Enquirer analysis of CDC data.
Who should receive a COVID-19 reminder?
We asked local health officials what they thought of a fourth COVID-19 vaccine and what public health was offering to help those who wanted another vaccine.
Dr. Louito Edje, associate dean for graduate medical education at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine and family physician at UC Health, said anyone who is healthy and over the age of 65 should feel at home. comfortable getting boosted without seeing their primary care provider. But, he added, if there is any doubt about whether they are at high risk, they should talk to their doctor first.
As for people aged 50 to 65, Edje said, “We just don’t have the data to support everyone getting a fourth dose.” But he stressed that if someone is at high risk for COVID-19, an additional injection is a good idea.
Acting Northern Kentucky District Health Director Steve Irvine said the second recall is primarily aimed at groups most vulnerable to severe illness and death from COVID-19. “While this latest information has just been released, we recommend individuals speak with their healthcare provider to discuss their specific situation and whether a second booster makes sense for them,” he said.
This idea of contacting your doctor was supported by several Cincinnati-area public health officials and the Health Collaborative, the joint organization of hospital systems in the region. Here’s what they said about how they handle vaccines, including boosters.
Hamilton County Public Health has vaccination clinics
The county public health department still has a main immunization clinic at the county board of elections office and welcomes walk-ins. All vaccination clinics are prepped for those seeking COVID-19 vaccines, and will be prepped for those wanting a fourth vaccine, said Mike Samet, spokesman for the health department. He acknowledged: “Vaccination rates have certainly slowed considerably, although we are still doing a few early doses.”
Samet said that at this point, people who received their first two-dose vaccination should receive a booster shot. Anyone who is not vaccinated should seek information, Samet said, to clear up their questions. “Our nurses in our clinics and on our phone lines can answer questions and provide information to help guide vaccine decisions.”
The Butler County General Health District will offer a weekly vaccination clinic
“I think (a second reminder) is going to be something that people over 50 should consider – especially people who have underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk (of contracting COVID- 19),” said Erin Smiley, public information officer.
The Butler County General Health District just ended its weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) clinics at the Butler County Educational Services Center because, Smiley said, demand has declined. But vaccinations, reminders of all types will remain available free of charge from the department. Butler County is moving its clinics from 10 a.m. to noon every Tuesday, at least for a while, see how it goes, to its main offices, 301 S. Third St. Hamilton. Smiley noted that if groups or places (such as churches) want to partner with special on-site vaccination clinics, county public health providers are happy to help.
Cincinnati health department awaits guidance
“When we are asked to proceed with booster administration, CHD has a plan to administer at our current vaccination sites,” officials said in a statement. For up-to-date information, city residents are encouraged to visit the Department of Health’s online site and click on its COVID-19 tab. There, the city updates information on who is eligible and other recommendations and provides an online schedule for vaccines. Those who do not have internet access and wish to make an appointment for a vaccine can call 513-357-7462.
Warren County Health District offers vaccine by appointment
COVID-19 vaccines are the “best protection against serious illness and death from COVID-19,” Warren County Health Commissioner Duane Stansbury said. “But this protection weakens over time.”
Booster doses can help restore and maintain vaccine protection, Stansbury said, and he added that while people 50 and older can get a second booster if the timing matches the recommendation, the second dose could be most beneficial for people age 65 and older or people age 50. to 64 who have certain underlying conditions. Again, Stansbury stressed that people should speak with their primary care provider.
Anyone in the Warren County Health District who would like to book an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine is asked to call 513-695-2428.
The county’s health commissioner said even those who have had COVID-19 should be vaccinated because it is possible, though rare, to become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again.
Northern Kentucky Health Department giving vaccines at health centers, will not have additional events
“People meeting these new criteria and wanting a second booster shot can do so from many medical providers in the community and supplies are plentiful,” Irvine said. “At this time, NKY Health does not intend to provide specific vaccination events as was done at the start of the pandemic.”
Irvine said Northern Kentucky has about 68% of its eligible population vaccinated with at least one dose, 63% have had their two-dose series, and about 25% have received a booster shot.
“Our current goal is to encourage those most at risk of severe disease to consider receiving a booster dose when eligible,” he said.
The Test and Protect Cincy vaccination and information site will continue updates
Across the region, the Health Collaborative noted that anyone can use its website’s COVID-19 information hub, TestandProtectCincy, to get answers about COVID-19, to find out about and schedule tests, and to learn more. register or inquire about walk-in clinics for vaccinations.