CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The leader of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is busy fielding questions from West Virginians concerned about receiving their COVID-19 booster shot.
Health Officer Dr. Sherri Young was part of a live teleconference Tuesday hosted by AARP West Virginia.
She said she wants to make sure residents understand the difference between a third dose of the vaccine and a booster shot. A third dose is for immunocompromised residents and a booster is meant to enhance protection for the general public.
“It’s not a different formulation,” Young explained. “It’s the same vaccine that you received initially. We’re giving an additional or a third dose of the same vaccine to boost immunity.”
Booster shots will be recommended for certain groups starting Sept. 20, especially most health care workers and nursing home residents who were among the first to receive the vaccine.
Young said it’s still unclear exactly which age groups for the rest of the general public will go next.
“I’m not sure if it will be those who are 50 and older or if we go back and go in order of who was vaccinated first,” she said.
The FDA recently gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, which Young said could entice more people to get vaccinated.
Young said the nation is currently facing a pandemic of the unvaccinated as COVID cases spike due to the ongoing threat of the Delta variant. She encouraged residents on the AARP call to get vaccinated if they haven’t already.
“Those who are vaccinated are 98 percent protected as far as having to go to the hospital, having to be inundated or even death,” Young said.
Young said COVID cases in Kanawha County are increasing at “an alarming rate” every day.
“I fully anticipate us to surpass our record number of cases here in Kanawha County. A record number of hospitalizations could occur within days,” she warned.
Young said she hopes more people decide to wear their masks in public and wash their hands often.
On Monday, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department reported 140 new cases of COVID and three new deaths. There were 1,346 active cases in the county.