BOOSTER BREAKDOWN: When, where can you get a shot in North Carolina?

CHARLOTTE — Starting Oct. 22, there were more options available for people to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot -- and health experts say you don’t have to go with the same shot you got the first time around.

Millions more Americans can now get a COVID-19 booster and choose a different company’s vaccine for that next shot, federal health officials said, and booster shots are now available in North Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

This article is intended to help explain the decisions made by the CDC, and help you determine when and where you can get a booster shot.

>> Looking for a COVID-19 shot? Use the tool below to find available vaccines anywhere in the United States.


Moderna

The CDC recommends getting a Moderna booster at least six months after your second shot.

The Moderna booster is a half-dose of its initial shot and is now available for those:

  • 65 and older
  • 18 years and older, who also: -Live or work in a nursing home or long-term care facility -Have underlying health conditions -Work in high-risk settings, like health care workers, teachers and child care providers -Live or work in a play where many people live together (examples include homeless shelters, prisons, and dorms or other group settings in colleges or universities)

Johnson & Johnson

The CDC said anyone 18 or older can now get a booster two months after their original shot.

Pfizer

Pfizer announced on Thursday that its booster is nearly 96% effective at preventing spreadable cases of COVID-19. Those results only applied to people who’d already received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.


The CDC is allowing the flexibility of “mixing and matching” the extra dose, regardless of which type people received first.

If you’re looking to get your booster shot, Channel 9 checked and found that some local pharmacies already have the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses.

On Thursday, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously to recommend booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, and also gave the green light to mixing and matching booster doses of the three authorized vaccines.

That committee meeting followed Wednesday’s authorization by the Food and Drug Administration of a booster shot of any one of the three coronavirus vaccines available in the United States.

There still are restrictions on who qualifies and when for a booster. Starting six months past their last Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, people are urged to get a booster if they’re 65 or older, nursing home residents, or at least 50 and at increased risk of severe disease because of health problems. Boosters also were allowed, but not urged, for adults of any age at increased risk of infection because of health problems or their jobs or living conditions. That includes health care workers, teachers and people in jails or homeless shelters.

Moderna’s booster will come at half the dose of the original two shots.

As for recipients of the single-shot J&J vaccine, a COVID-19 booster is recommended for everyone at least two months after their vaccination. That’s because the J&J vaccine hasn’t proved as protective as the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer options.

The CDC panel didn’t explicitly recommend anyone get a different brand than they started with but left open the option — saying only that a booster of some sort was recommended. And some of the advisers said they would prefer that J&J recipients receive a competitor’s booster, citing preliminary data from an ongoing government study that suggested a bigger boost in virus-fighting antibodies from that combination.

“(The) announcement expands eligibility to more North Carolinians who could benefit from additional protection against COVID-19,” NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said. “If you aren’t yet vaccinated, don’t wait. We are seeing this virus attack those who are unvaccinated at a much higher rate than those who are vaccinated.”

About two-thirds of Americans eligible for COVID-19 shots are fully vaccinated, and the government says getting first shots to the unvaccinated remain the priority. While health authorities hope boosters will shore up waning immunity against milder coronavirus infections, all the vaccines still offer strong protection against hospitalizations and death, even as the extra-contagious delta variant burned through the country.

The vast majority of the nearly 190 million Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have received the Pfizer or Moderna options, while J&J recipients account for only about 15 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Boosters now available in North Carolina for all COVID-19 vaccines

To strengthen and extend protections against COVID-19, many North Carolinians who have been fully vaccinated can now receive a COVID-19 booster shot if they are eligible.

You may be eligible for a booster if:

  • You are 18 or older;
  • Your second/final dose was more than SIX months ago for Pfizer and Moderna;
  • You received your Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than TWO months ago;

And you meet the additional recommendations below:

Johnson & Johnson

It is recommended that anyone 18 or older who was vaccinated more than 2 months ago with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine receive a booster dose.

Moderna and Pfizer

Boosters have been authorized and recommended for individuals who are at high risk for serious illness or exposure. You are eligible if you received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and ONE of the following is true:

  • You are 65 or older, or
  • You live or work in a nursing home or long-term care residential facility, or
  • You have a medical condition that puts you at high risk for severe illness (for example, obesity, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes), or
  • You work in a high-risk profession, meaning you come into contact with a lot of people, and you don’t know their vaccination status (for example, health care workers, first responders, teachers, food processing workers, retail and restaurant workers, and public transportation workers), or
  • You live or work in a place where many people live together (for example, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, migrant farm housing, dormitories or other group living settings in colleges or universities).

(This is not a complete list of situations. Talk to a doctor, pharmacist or nurse if you are not sure you’re eligible.)

North Carolinians are now able to receive any brand of COVID-19 vaccine for their booster shot.

Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster. Limited evidence suggests that booster doses of one of the two mRNA vaccines -- Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech -- more effectively raise antibody levels than a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The NCDHHS encourages you to speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you have questions about what booster is right for you.

Think you may be eligible? Get a booster anywhere COVID-19 vaccines are available. People do not need a doctor’s note to get a booster shot and may self-attest to eligibility.

You’ll need to know the dates of your vaccination and confirm what brand you got originally. Your paper vaccination card is helpful but may not be necessary. At-home vaccination and free transportation may be available.

If you have more questions, please read this FAQ or call the NC COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567.

Novant Health to offer booster doses; announces updates to mass vaccination sites

Following expanded emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Novant Health said that it will begin offering booster doses for everyone 18 and older on Tuesday, Nov. 23. Appointments are required for individuals seeking a booster dose to ensure availability.

Novant Health also announced holiday closures of its mass vaccination and COVID-19 testing locations. In addition, Novant Health Medical Group – East Mecklenburg in Charlotte will move to a new location beginning Monday, Dec. 6.  All patients who have a scheduled vaccination on or after this date, including second and booster doses, will now go to the Novant Health Medical Group – Baldwin location.

Current and future operating hours are as follows:

Charlotte

Novant Health Medical Group – East Mecklenburg (6070 East Independence Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28212) is open:

  • For vaccination appointments on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • For COVID-19 test appointments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • This location will be closed on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26
  • This location’s last day of operations will be Nov. 30.

Novant Health Medical Group – Baldwin (address 125 Baldwin Avenue Charlotte, NC 28204) will begin operations on Monday, Dec. 6 This new location will be open:

  • For vaccination appointments on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • For COVID-19 test appointments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • This location will be closed on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31.

Novant Health Medical Group - Huntersville (17220 Northcross Dr. Suite 110, Huntersville, NC 28078) is open:

  • For vaccination appointments on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • This location will be closed on Nov. 25 and Dec. 23.

Salisbury

Novant Health Medical Group - Salisbury (828 Jake Alexander Blvd W, Salisbury, NC 28147) is open:

  • For vaccination appointments on Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • This location will be closed on Nov. 26.

As a reminder, we ask anyone seeking a COVID-19 test or a COVID-19 vaccine to first make an appointment. You do not have to be a Novant Health patient to schedule.

Ways to schedule include:

  • MyChart: MyChart is the best way to schedule an appointment. Anyone can create a MyChart account by visiting MyNovant.org. Appointment availability can be accessed under Visits > Schedule an appointment.
  • NovantHealth.org/CovidTest: Anyone can schedule a testing appointment online.
  • GetVaccinated.org: Anyone can schedule a vaccination appointment online.
  • Primary care clinics: established patients are able to call their primary care clinic to schedule an appointment at that clinic, if it is offering the vaccine, or at the nearest Novant Health vaccination site.
  • Those who do not have access to the internet or a primary care provider can call 855-NH-VAC-4U (855-648-2248) for scheduling assistance.
  • Asymptomatic patients seeking travel, return-to-work or return-to-school clearance are asked to use the NCDHHS Test Site Finder for a location that better suits their needs. Testing continues to be available at Novant Health-GoHealth Urgent Care centers for symptomatic patients.

Booster eligibility criteria by products:

Moderna

  • Who is eligible? Individuals 18 and older
  • When can those eligible receive the booster? At least six months following the second dose in the primary Moderna series
  • Is the booster the same product as the first two doses? No. The booster is a half-dose

Johnson & Johnson

  • Who is eligible?  Individuals 18 years and older
  • When can those eligible receive the booster? At least two months following first Johnson & Johnson dose
  • Is the booster the same product as the first dose? Yes. It’s the same product that people received before

Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)

  • Who is eligible? Individuals 18 years and older
  • When can those eligible receive the booster? At least six months following second dose in the primary Pfizer-BioNTech series
  • Is the booster the same product as the first two doses? Yes. It’s the same product that people received before

Most frequently asked questions:

Do I need to receive the same vaccine product I received earlier in the series?

You can, but you do not have to. Following updated guidance from the FDA, eligible individuals can “mix and match” booster doses following completion of primary vaccination with a different available COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I receive the booster at the same time as my flu vaccine or other vaccines?

Yes. You can receive COVID-19 vaccines the same day as other vaccines. You can also receive COVID-19 vaccines if you have received another vaccine within two weeks.

Do I need to bring my COVID-19 vaccine card to my appointment?

Yes, please bring your vaccine card. Physical cards and photos of cards will be accepted. If you have lost your vaccination card, and you did not receive your previous doses with Novant Health, you should contact the site where you obtained your vaccine series to confirm the product you received and dates. If you have lost your vaccination card and you did receive your previous doses with Novant Health, we will be able to access your records and issue a replacement card.

How will we verify an individual’s eligibility? Is identification required?

Individuals self-identify and attest to their eligibility status. Individuals will not be asked for any identification or proof of residency. Insurance is not required, however patients are asked for insurance information if they have it for filing of the administration of the vaccine purposes only.

Is the booster dose free?

Yes. All COVID-19 vaccines are free for every individual, including those who do not have insurance.

(Source: NCDHHS, Novant Health)

(WATCH BELOW: CDC recommends boosters for all three vaccines)