Local health officials weigh in on COVID-19 booster shots

[anvplayer video=”5050992″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you’ve had your coronavirus shots, it may soon be time for you to get another shot.

On Wednesday, President Biden announced plans to offer COVID-19 vaccine “booster” shots to provide more protection to people who’ve been vaccinated.

“In fact, I’m getting in line for my additional dose in the next couple days,” said Trillium Health founder Bill Valenti.

Valenti said it’s been becoming clear for a while that a booster dose of COVID vaccine might be necessary for better protection and he cheered the news from President Biden.

“The plan is for every adult to get a booster shot eight months after you got your second shot,” the president said.

Under the plan, people who’ve gotten both injections of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s coronavirus vaccines can start getting a third dose starting Sept. 20. Plans for similarly boosting the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are still under consideration.

Valenti predicted that, eventually, the standard would likely become three shots for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two shots for the J&J and that as the highly contagious “delta” variant of COVID sends increasing numbers of people to the hospital, including “breakthrough cases” of those who’ve already been vaccinated, that extra shot will do more to stop the spread.

“We would do better at fighting off these variants with this third injection,” Valenti explained, “because it gives you such high levels of antibody to protect you from, not only the current strain, the delta strain, but likely strains that come afterward.”

At the same time, organizations like Trillium and Common Ground Health are seeing growing numbers of people line up to get that first coronavirus shot, like a pop-up clinic at the Rochester transit center on Wednesday.

After months of vaccination numbers going down, health workers say they’re now seeing a slow turnaround.

“Some people are having it as a requirement to go to school, back to school sports and things like that,” said Common Ground Health Chief Medical Officer Linda Clark, “I think there’s also a little fear of some of these variants of concern, most notably the Delta right now. I think some people have had some increased concern and went ahead and decided to get vaccinated.”

Valenti said patients he calls the “vaccine-hesitant” have been watching the news too and he’s had hopeful conversations with growing numbers of skeptical patients.

“People are responding to the increase in the numbers of infections,” he said, “and because we are seeing almost a doubling in a week of a number of people coming in for vaccination.”

Clark said she too has seen a gradual process in winning patients over.

“It doesn’t look as splashy as 1,000 people getting vaccinated a day,” she said. “But sometimes, when you have a day of vaccinations and you have 25, you feel really satisfied because do you understand that these are folks that needed some more information.”