WATCH: State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris Explains Who Needs Booster Shots

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State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris speaking at a news conference in Montgomery on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 – Alabama News Network

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris held a news conference Friday morning to clear up the confusion on who needs a booster shot under current federal government instructions.

Harris says based on information that came out from the CDC early Friday morning, this is the message he wants to send to all Alabamians:

  1. Those people who are interested in a booster must have received both Pfizer shots, and the second shot must have been given at least six months ago
  2.  Within that group, those who are 65+ years old or in a long-term care setting, such as a nursing home or assisted living, should get a booster dose, provided they meet the requirements of #1.
  3.  Those who are 50+ with underlying medical conditions should also get a booster dose, provided they meet the requirements of #1.

Dr. Harris says the booster shots don’t yet apply to those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, though he is expecting to get information from the federal government soon.

In addition, he says the following groups may also get a booster shot, provided they meet the requirements of #1:

  • People 18+ with an underlying medical condition, under guidance from their doctor
  • People 18+ based on their job or institutional setting, such as health care workers, first responders, school employees, daycare workers, grocery workers, if they are in regular contact with the public

Dr. Harris says the CDC instructions on who “should” get the booster as compared to those who “may” get the booster are confusing. He says he is relying on the media to get the message out. He says the requirements of #1 must be met first.

He says there has been no data released on whether people can mix and match different vaccines (like getting a Pfizer booster after receiving the Moderna vaccine.)

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Right now, he says 2.4 million Alabamians have received at least one dose of a vaccine while 1.95 million are fully vaccinated. He says the state is no longer at the bottom of the country.

Hospitalization numbers have declined, but he says some of that is due to people dying of COVID-19 and not recovering. He says the deaths remain the final indicator of this spike in cases, lagging behind other statistics, then having to be verified.

Monoclonal antibodies: Dr. Harris says that the federal government’s restrictions on supplies took place this week. As a result, Alabama had about three times as many requests (19,000) as supplies (6,600.) Dr. Harris says there are three manufacturers of monoclonal antibodies, and the federal government has bought all of the supplies from two of those companies. It is possible that Alabama could purchase supplies directly from the third company, but Dr. Harris says there’s not the funding in place to do that.

Alabama National Guard: Dr. Harris says small National Guard teams will be sent to help at three of the state’s smaller hospitals — located in Troy, Demopolis and Monroeville, in the next few days.

KickCovid19: The state’s program to provide testing and vaccines at selected college football games is going well, Dr. Harris said. He says 683 doses have been given out, mostly at the state’s smaller schools. On Saturday, Sept. 25, the campaign will be at games at the University of Alabama, Auburn University and Samford University, so he expects the numbers to go up.

Schools: Dr. Harris says nothing has changed regarding how Alabama’s public schools should be handling outbreaks. He says the instructions from last year are still in place in terms of reporting cases, getting infected students out of the classroom and notifying parents. Schools are still strongly urged to require masks, keep students at a social distance and tell parents of possible exposure.

Overall, Dr. Harris says it is still not good to mix with people  of other households, especially when vaccination status is not known.

Categories: Coronavirus, Montgomery, News, News Video, Statewide