JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Biden administration had planned on starting to administer COVID-19 booster shots next week, but the Food and Drug Administration has put those plans on hold.
Health officials said their primary concern is getting most people their first and second shots -- not their third.
Right now, it’s only recommended for people 65 and older or those at high risk of getting COVID-19 get the booster shot.
The Florida Department of Health is reporting a drop in COVID-19 cases across the state. This week, it reported 75,906 new cases. It’s the first time in six weeks that less than 100,000 cases per week were reported.
The state saw its peak about a month ago, with 151,880 cases. But how soon before we peak again?
“But the question is, can we keep those numbers down with kids in school, and in some of our neighboring counties, where kids don’t have a mask mandate, and our kids between the under the age of 12 can’t be vaccinated yet?” said Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation.
Joshi said increased vaccination rates can help keep cases low. He also said plans to implement booster shots will help.
“Having the general population vaccinated, and then those who need the booster get the vaccine as well, is our quickest way out of the pandemic,” Joshi said.
Joshi said right now, there should be a focus on getting people their initial doses of the vaccine, giving vaccine boosters to those who need it and getting kids under 12 the shot as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reported more than 13 million (13,427,208) Florida residents are vaccinated. That’s 70% of those ages 12 and up. In Duval County, 61% of age 12 and up residents are vaccinated.
Some News4Jax viewers ask how is the booster shot different from the first two?
“It is not significantly different than what you had received the first time,” Joshi said.
Right now, it’s recommended that people 65 and older, and those in high-risk categories to get a Pfizer booster shot six months after the first two shots.
Joshi said he thinks this is a reasonable approach.
“Get them to boosters first, because it does seem like in the older folks, immunity wanes faster than it does in some of the younger people,” Joshi said.
The CDC said 88% of Florida residents 65 and older are vaccinated.
Earlier this week, AARP reported Florida nursing homes tie with another state to lead the country in COVID-19 deaths.
“That is, in particular, where a lot of the virus started to spread initially in this country,” Joshi said. “That is a group of people that really should be towards the front of the list in terms of receiving this booster.”
The Florida Healthcare Association said more than 98% of residents and staff in their nursing facilities remain COVID-free, and they are encouraging staff to get vaccinated.
The CDC is meeting next week to determine its final approval for booster shots.