NEW BRITAIN – Hartford HealthCare addressed updates of the Pfizer vaccine booster shot.
“We have treated many of those (immunocompromised) patients in our clinics, giving them a third dose of one of those two vaccines,” said Eric Arlia, system director, pharmacy, Hartford HealthCare. “Each time one of our vaccines comes up for review for a booster dose it requires the FDA to review it and it’s usually done one brand at a time.”
Arlia said using the vaccine is a two-step process: part one is the FDA review and part two is guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
“This past Friday Pfizer’s vaccine came up for review. Pfizer had requested that it be approved for all people ages 16 or older who received the Pfizer vaccine six months after they received their second dose,” he said. “The FDA committee decided not to give it that full approval, but they put some restrictions in place and what they came up with was patients who were 65 years of age or older and patients who are at high risk of developing severe covid (could receive a booster shot).”
On Wednesday and Thursday, the ACIP committee will meet and review this. This week they are only focused on Pfizer there, but other things will be discussed in weeks to come including Moderna and J&J.
“When the ACIP committee meeting concludes on Thursday we hope to have the official guidance on how we can use the Pfizer vaccine as a booster dose,” Arlia said. “Once that occurs that’s when we can start to plan how to roll that vaccination out. We have many teams on standby, we’ve done a lot of pre-work to prepare for this moment and as soon as we get the final guidance, we’ll begin the process for those who are eligible.”
As of last week, Hartford HealthCare reached out to people who received their vaccines in the springtime and to date.
“We asked them if they would be interested in receiving notification when they become eligible for the vaccine and we really got a high response rate to that,” Arlia said. “I think in the first phase we’re likely going to make it by an appointment until we have a feel of what the demand will be, but as soon as we know that is easily able to be met, we will consider making it available to walk-in as well.”
Hartford HealthCare has administered about 2,500 third doses for the immunocompromised.
“One thing I can’t stress enough is vaccine constraint is no longer a concern; we have plenty of doses on hand and we have the ability to order more doses each week,” Arlia said. “We haven’t had any vaccine availability concern since probably April, so we feel very confident we will have enough vaccines to meet the demand of anyone who is eligible for the booster and interested in receiving it.”