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Charlotte area vaccine providers preparing to administer Pfizer COVID-19 boosters next week

The Mecklenburg County Health Department, StarMed and Novant Health will start on Monday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Now that certain populations are eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, North Carolina vaccine providers are preparing to give people a boost in protection.

Mecklenburg County health officials said they are preparing to administer booster shots for recipients of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as early as Monday, Sept. 27 at all public health sites. StarMed Healthcare will do the same.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said once providers have access to booster shots, they can begin administering them immediately.

Those eligible can find booster shots at their health care provider, pharmacies and other locations where COVID-19 vaccines are available.

Novant Health will also start giving boosters at select locations on Monday. It is by appointment only. 

Atrium Health still has not released plans.

Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy locations started giving the shots after the CDC Director's approval.

The Charlotte Community Health Clinic partnered with CMS on Saturday to host a vaccine clinic at Ransom Middle School. Health experts say overall they've seen a recent increase in vaccines along with more and more people interested in the booster shots too.

“I think that the delta variant has families in the Charlotte community worried," Charlotte Community Health Clinic Chief Medical Officer  Anne Steptoe said. “Booster shots are given because we want to make sure that as there are different variants that come out individuals have strong immune protection heading into the winter.”

The announcement came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky recommended boosters to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health conditions. The extra doses will be given once those patients are at least six months past their second Pfizer shot. 

Walensky also recommended boosters for people who are age 18 to 64 and are health care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure. That recommendation went against a CDC advisory committee's counsel, but Walensky said in a statement that "it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact."

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"While we are awaiting additional clinical guidance from the CDC and specific guidance from NC DHHS, Mecklenburg County Public Health will be prepared to provide third doses of the Pfizer vaccine to eligible individuals on Monday, September 27 at all public health vaccine sites," Health Director Gibbie Harris said in a statement. 

NCDHHS said that providers can give boosters immediately if they're ready.

"My assumption is there will be a very large demand for those individuals who qualify for that third shot," Chris Dobbins with StarMed Healthcare said.

As vaccine providers prepare to give third doses, there are still millions of North Carolinians who have not gotten the first shot.

"Education and motivation continue to be at the forefront of our work and we anticipate that we still have a lot of work in front of us so we'll continue to hopefully help those individuals move forward be it their first, second or booster," Dobbins said.

Some have been slow to get a second dose too. At least 195,000 people in the state have gotten a Pfizer or Moderna first dose, but haven't gone back to complete the series.

"If we don't see someone come back in a lot of time yes we are ding outreach to remind them to come back and get that second vaccine. you're not fully vaccinated if you get the Pfizer and Moderna until you get the second vaccine," Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said.

This is only for people who have gotten the Pfizer vaccine but guidance for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters is likely coming soon.

Chloe Leshner will have a full report on Pfizer COVID-19 boosters in North Carolina Friday. That report will air during WCNC Charlotte News at 6

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