The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, of which Nevada is a part, on Friday completed its review of the federal process and has recommended a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after the primary vaccination series. The recommendation is for people older than 65 and people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
The workgroup provided its confirmation to the Governors of California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington Friday.
The following groups of people who received the Pfizer vaccine should receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine after six months:
- People 65 and older.
- People living in a long-term care facility.
- People 50-64 with underlying medical conditions.
In addition, the workgroup recommended that the following groups of people ages 18-64 who received the Pfizer vaccine may also receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine after six months:
- People with underlying medical conditions.
- People who are at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission due to occupational or institutional setting.
The CDC’s statement is echoed by a report released last year by the Guinn Center for Policy Priorities that showed how, in Nevada, racial and ethnic minorities are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their outsized role in essential jobs, and are less likely to have health insurance and more likely to have underlying medical conditions.
Based on the CDC’s findings, the workgroup recommended people who are impacted by inequities such as poverty, insurance status or poor access to healthcare have those things taken into consideration when determining their eligibility for a booster dose based on underlying medical conditions.
Details on the approvals
On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 65 and older and those that are at higher risk for COVID-19, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices affirmed that decision on Thursday.
On Thursday, the CDC also recommended people at higher risk due to occupational or institutional setting also be eligible for Pfizer booster doses.
Recognizing that only Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have been authorized for booster doses, the workgroup implored the FDA and CDC to quickly find solutions to sustain the protection of the most vulnerable individuals who have received a Moderna or Janssen vaccine.
Washington, Oregon and Nevada joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup in October. The workgroup, made up of scientists with expertise in immunization and public health, has concurrently and independently reviewed the FDA’s actions related to COVID-19 vaccines. It will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines as they go through the federal process.
“The group was able to come together quickly for a robust discussion of the recommendations related to the Pfizer vaccine that will increase protection for our vulnerable residents and work to end this pandemic,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said. “The inclusion and recognition that health disparities exist in our communities is a vital addition to the federal recommendations, and I hope this independent review gives Nevadans confidence in the process. Every vaccination moves us one step closer to recovery, and our state team and vaccinating providers stand ready to implement the latest guidance.”
How to get the booster in Washoe County
The Pfizer booster dose will be available starting Monday at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center.
Only those who received the Pfizer vaccine (both first and second doses) completed six or more months ago are eligible.
Residents must bring their COVID-19 vaccine card they received when getting the first two Pfizer COVID-19 doses.
Those who received the Moderna or Janssen vaccine are not eligible at this time because the FDA and CDC have not yet approved boosters for those vaccines.
Residents who want to get the booster dose at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center can sign up here. Follow the link and click on the “Schedule Additional Dose” button. Residents could experience longer wait times and additional paperwork might be required onsite.
Other vaccine providers in Washoe County also will be administering Pfizer booster doses and those locations can be found here.
First and second doses are still available for all residents using the same sign-up form. People can also call 775-328-2427. The Livestock Events Center will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, though this could change based on demand.
Those with questions about their vaccination card should request that information through WebIZ. When people go for testing at the Livestock Events Center, they will fill out paperwork self-attesting to their eligibility.
Residents who are immunocompromised can still receive the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and it can be either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Health officials said this recommendation is separate from the booster dose. Those who received the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine are not eligible for the third dose at this time.
Read more about additional doses for immunocompromised people here.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.