booster clinic

Brittany Phthisic (left), a nursing student at College of The Albemarle, administers a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination booster shot to Fred D’Antonio during a booster clinic at the Elizabeth City Aviation Airpark, Oct. 6. Beginning Monday, Albemarle Regional Health Services will start hosting drive-through clinics that offer booster doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Albemarle Regional Health Services said Tuesday it will begin hosting drive-through clinics next week offering booster shots of the Moderna vaccine to residents 65 and older and to those younger who either have underlying medical conditions or jobs that put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

ARHS, which began offering booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine several weeks ago, plans to hold Moderna clinics in each of the eight counties it serves, starting with one Monday at the Gates County Health Department at 29 Medical Center Road, Gates, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Other Moderna booster clinics next week will be at the Camden County Library at 104 Investors Way, Camden, on Tuesday; the Elizabeth City Aviation Commerce Park at 1049 Consolidated Road, Elizabeth City, and the Ahoskie Creek Amphitheater at 125 Edgewood Drive, Ahoskie, on Wednesday; and the American Legion at 1317 W. Queen St., Edenton, on Thursday, Nov. 4. All clinics will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The following week, clinics will also be held at the Perquimans Recreation Center at 310 Granby St., Hertford, on Monday, Nov. 8; at Maple Park at 170 Maple Parkway, Maple, in Currituck, Tuesday, Nov. 9; and at the Bertie County Recreation Complex at 1538 South King St., Windsor, Wednesday, Nov. 10. Those clinics also will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Although federal health officials have authorized health providers to offer booster vaccines that are different from the one residents originally received, ARHS said next week’s drive-through clinics will be for residents who received the two-shot series of the Moderna vaccine at least six months ago. Residents seeking a booster dose of either the Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine should make an appointment with the health department in their county, ARHS said.

ARHS said it is recommending the Moderna booster dose for persons 65 and older, persons ages 50-64 with certain medical conditions, and persons 18 and older who reside in long-term care facilities.

However, the Moderna clinics will also be open to persons 18-49 with underlying medical conditions and those 18-64 at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure because of their job or where they work, ARHS said.

“COVID-19 booster shots are an important tool to provide additional protection against COVID-19,” ARHS Director R. Battle Betts Jr. said in a press release. “I encourage anyone who is eligible to get their booster.”

Betts noted a doctor’s note isn’t required to get a booster shot and residents can “self-attest to eligibility.”

Residents are required to bring their vaccine card to the drive-through clinics so staff can verify their previous vaccine series; those without their vaccine card will be asked to make an appointment at their local health department. ARHS is also asking residents not to arrive at any clinic prior to 8:30 a.m.

Betts also encouraged residents who have questions about whether they should get a booster to speak with their doctor or another healthcare professional they trust.

Betts said last week ARHS is still awaiting approval from federal officials to begin offering the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 5-11. Currently only children 12 and older can get that vaccine.

ARHS released data Friday showing the agency has already administered 1,522 booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 75% of it in Pasquotank and Currituck counties.

ARHS said it continues to accept appointments for booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and will begin accepting appointments for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters next week. Federal health officials advise the J&J booster for persons 18 and older who received their original dose of the single-shot vaccine at least two months ago.

The regional health department also continues to accept appointments for first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and single doses of the J&J vaccine. Residents must be 12 and older.

Also available are third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for residents who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

ARHS also released data Tuesday showing active COVID-19 cases have declined significantly from the summer. According to ARHS, active cases on Tuesday totaled 303. That’s nearly 40 fewer than were reported in the region on Friday.

“It’s been over two months since we have had active cases this low across the region,” Betts said. “My hope is that we continue to see cases steadily decline and we can move forward to brighter days.”