On Oct. 22 Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced that the Ulster County Department of Health is actively searching for practicing and retired medical professionals, as well as non-medical professionals to volunteer their time to assist with the county’s vaccination efforts.
The call for volunteers is in response to the demand for the booster vaccination for those who received the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines, as well as to prepare for the upcoming winter season where gatherings will move indoors.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends booster shots for demographics of people such as those who are 65 and up and people 18-64 who are frequently exposed to COVID-19 or have an underlying health condition.
A single dose of the Moderna booster should be administered at least six months after the completion of the initial dose to those who are 65 years or older, 18-64 years old who are high risk of severe COVID-19 and 18-24 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to COVID-19. A single booster of the Johnson & Johnson booster (known as Janssen), may be administered at least two months after the single-dose vaccine to anyone over age 18. A single booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech may be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series to individuals 18-64 years old who have frequent institutional or occupational exposure to COVID-19.
Research is being conducted on the use of heterologous, or “mix and match,” booster dose in eligible individuals. As of right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it is safe for people to receive a different booster shot than the original vaccine they received.
“The amendments to the emergency use authorizations to include a single booster dose in eligible populations are based on the available data and information and follows the input from the members of our advisory committee who were supportive of the use of a booster dose of these vaccines in eligible populations,” said director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D. “We are also taking action today to include the use of mix and match boosters to address this public health need. We will work to accrue additional data as quickly as possible to further assess the benefits and risks of the use of booster doses in additional populations and plan to update the healthcare community and public with our determination in the coming weeks.”
This past August, Ulster County reopened the COVID-19 vaccine point of dispensary (POD) at the former Best Buy location in the Ulster County Mall, to administer the booster alongside the vaccine for those who have not been vaccinated. The POD is open every Friday to administer doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Volunteers are needed at this location as well as other smaller locations throughout Ulster County.
“All of our efforts related to the pandemic have been heavily powered by an incredible group of volunteers. Residents from all over the county have come together and said they want to step up and serve and help their community, and we’ve had hundreds of folks with both medical and non-medical experience volunteer at our vaccination sites,” said Ryan. “As we continue to stay proactive and really be leaning forward in anticipation of the winter coming, we’re asking everyone to once again volunteer. We do need more volunteers so we can be ready.”
Those who are interested in volunteering should visit VaccinateUlster.com for more information. Anyone planning on making an appointment to receive their booster should visit covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/vaccine-resource-center/ to make an appointment and find out what they need to bring.