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Health Watch: Tanana Chiefs Conference offers COVID booster shots to beneficiaries over 18

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 4:21 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is now offering COVID-19 booster shots to beneficiaries 18 and older.

According to Dr. George Bird, Director of Clinical Services for TCC, the criteria for who qualifies for a booster shot as listed by the CDC covers a wide margin of people.

“For us, what we have chosen to do is essentially anybody over 18, we would give booster shots,” Dr. Bird explained. “If you go by the official CDC guidance that came out a little over a week ago, they had four characterizations. They had literally people aged 65 and older and/or people living in congregant settings should have it. They said people from 50 to 64 with an underlying medical condition should have it. They said people from 18 to 49 with underlying conditions may have it. Then they said anybody from 18 to 64 with any potential occupational risk may have it too. There’s enough wiggle room in all of those classifications, that we didn’t want to get in the middle of adjudicating that.”

TCC has decided to offer Pfizer booster shots to those who meet the minimum qualifications.

“So we’re going to go ahead and offer the booster vaccine to anybody that meets the minimum qualifications,” Dr. Bird elaborated. “You have to have had completed your second dose of Pfizer within the last six months - has to be Pfizer not one of the other ones, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. Anybody who meets those qualifications, we’re scheduling them and we’re doing it. We’re not trying to weed through the details and figure out who exactly should meet it or not because it’s pretty time consuming to figure that out.”

Only Pfizer booster shots are being offered by TCC at this time, but according to Dr. Bird they expect that in the future they will offer other brands per approval

“The CDC has only authorized Pfizer boosters at this time,” Dr. Bird said. “The Moderna and the J&J are going through the authorization process as we speak, and I would anticipate that they would also be receiving authorization to do boosters probably in the next one to two months would be my guess, something to that effect. But for right now, Pfizer has kind of been a little bit ahead of all of the other vaccines on everything. So it’s kind of being illustrated here because they started a little bit early, they’re going to go through the review process for the boosters ahead of everybody else.”

At this point, only TCC beneficiaries are able to receive a booster shot, with the potential of opening up to other groups in the future.

“At this point, we are limiting our booster shots to people who are TCC beneficiaries, employees of TCC, and immediate household members of both of those groups,” Dr. Bird concluded. “Previously when we started to do vaccines back in January, we did the same thing, we opened it up to those groups. Then as we started to work through those groups we expanded it to other members of the community, and that may be the case on the boosters also depending on the situation when we get there.”

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