Stony Brook ELIH now scheduling appointments for COVID booster shots

If you’re 65 or older or have illnesses that compromise your immune system or reside in a long-term care facility and have had the initial two Pfizer vaccine inoculations at least six months ago, you can now make an appointment for a booster shot at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital.

The hospital will be administering the booster shots on Wednesday, Oct. 13 between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. While walk-ins without appointments may be accommodated if the hospital has a sufficient supply of the vaccine, it’s advised that you make an appointment first.

Four groups of New Yorkers are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose as the vaccination effort continues amid the ongoing pandemic.

The boosters at this point are only for those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and are available six months after a primary vaccine series was completed, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In announcing the booster eligibility last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul noted the groups are divided into two sections — those who should receive the booster and those who may receive it.

Eligible residents who should receive the booster are those 65 and older or residents of long-term care settings. The second eligibility group who should receive the booster are those ages 50-64 who have underlying medical conditions.

Those who are 18-49 with underlying medical conditions can receive the booster based on their individual benefits and risks. And those who are 18-64 and are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission based on their occupation can also receive the booster. The current lists of occupations includes first responders, education staff, workers in food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections, the U.S. Postal Service, public transit and grocery stores, according to the CDC.

Governor Kathy Hochul launched a community COVID-19 booster vaccine site last weeke and thanked health care workers. (Photo: Don Pollard/Governor’s Office)

Anyone who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not currently eligible for the booster, but may be in the near future, according to the governor. Residents who received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot of Johnson & Johnson are still considered fully vaccinated.

Ms. Hochul said protecting from the COVID-19 vaccine can wane over time as is similar to other vaccines.

“A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will help particularly at-risk New Yorkers stay protected from the virus for longer,” she said last week. “While the focus of our vaccination effort remains ensuring all unvaccinated New Yorkers get vaccinated, those who are booster eligible should waste no time receiving maximum protection from COVID-19 as soon as possible.”

The New York State Clinical Advisory Task Force endorsed the CDC statement on boosters Friday. The governor announced the booster rollout Monday.

Free booster doses will be “widely available statewide at state-run mass vaccination sites, pharmacies, local health departments, clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and other locations across New York State,” according the governor’s announcement.

Additional information on boosters can be found at a new state website. Residents can also text their zip code to 438829 to schedule a booster or call 1-800-232-0233.

The CDC emphasized the boosters can help protect against the more transmissible delta variant that has been driving an increase in cases nationwide. The CDC said that while COVID-19 vaccination for adults 65 and older remains effective in preventing serious disease, recent data suggest vaccination is “less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms.” The booster adds an increased immune response, according the CDC.

The CDC said reported side effects to the booster shot are similar to after the second shot of the primary series. Fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects and most side effects were mild to moderate.