Health departments and nursing homes prepare for vaccine booster approval

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Vaccine advisers with the FDA are meeting to discuss whether Americans need to start getting booster doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Health Departments in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts are developing plans right now for people to access third booster shots.

“I do expect them to come out and authorize boosters, third shots for individuals, now, the question is who will they authorize it for?” Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health said.

Dr. Jha says the data is clear that vulnerable Americans need it.

“Elderly people are immunompromised, people with chronic diseases. Whether healthy young people need it, I’m more skeptical,” Dr. Jha said. “The vulnerable population, absolutely.”

Dr. Jha expects approval for that population in the next few days. President and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, John Gage, says they’re preparing.

“We assume that nursing home residents would be pretty high up on the priority list if boosters are indicated,” Gage said.

Gage says they haven’t yet gotten direction on how the roll-out process will work, but some high-risk residents have already gotten a third shot.

“Boosters are available in a very limited capacity for certain nursing home residents who fit into a certain immunocompromised categories,” Gage said.

The RI Department of Health says once they get approval, they will give guidance on where and who they are available to. That will include information for specialty populations like people in congregate settings like nursing homes.

As for the rest of the population, Dr. Jha says booster will likely be needed, but not for a while.

“I think that’s probably likely at some point in 2022,” Dr. Jha said. “I can imagine most Americans not in high risk groups probably will need a booster.”

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island