RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Pfizer booster shots are now available in Virginia, but only for a certain group of people and those eligible are already rolling up their sleeves to get a third shot.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Second Baptist Church on Broad Rock Boulevard turns into a site for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. On Tuesday afternoon, the vaccine event offered boosters for the first time and folks lined up outside to get their shot.
However, it’s not just vaccine events people are also heading to local independent pharmacies eager to get an extra layer of protection against the virus.
Eric Zwicky drove to Second Baptist to get his booster on Tuesday. Zwicky told 8News his wife is a healthcare worker at the VCU Medical center and has an autoimmune disorder.
“I just wanted to support her by making myself more immune,” Zwicky shared. “I’m excited and happy to be doing this.”
Zwicky allowed 8News to document his vaccination and says the shot was easy, fast and painless.
Just last week the FDA approved a third of the Pfizer vaccine for those who are six months out from their second dose. However the eligibility is stricter and boosters are only advised for those who are 18 and up and immunocompromised or have underlying health conditions, those 65 and older, and frontline workers.
Dr. Danny Avula says 700,000 Virginians are eligible for boosters. A nurse at the Second Baptist Church told 8News she administered all booster shots on Tuesday.
Stephanie Spencer, pharmacist at Commonshare, said they have been preparing their program for months in advance and are ready to go with plenty of vaccine in stock and plenty of available appointments.
“We’re starting slowly but surely to get these boosters going,” Spencer said.
Commonshare has been offering boosters since Friday of last week and said it’s been a slow start for their pharmacy. She said chain pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS are busy with booster patients and doesn’t want the community to forget that local pharmacies are ready as well.
With the slow rollout, Spencer does not want the vaccine to go to waste. She decided to help out by calling nearby long term care facilities to see if they need help. On Tuesday, Spencer packed up some of her supply, hand delivered and administered it to vulnerable residents and staff at a long term care facility.
“They are seeing breakthrough cases and they’re starting to get sick again. They’re ready for these boosters and I’m just so happy that we can provide them,” said Spencer. “We have the supply and the willingness and we’re very passionate about serving our community.”
On Tuesday, Christopher Taylor a healthcare worker received his booster shot at Commonshare and told 8News it was a very easy decision.
“Third shot I’m getting my booster! I’m feeling great. Lets do this,” Taylor exclaimed. “Being on the frontlines and seeing what I’ve seen– get the vaccine.”
Over in Henrico at Bremo Pharmacy, Leighton Mascari, a pharmacist, says they’ve been getting a lot of calls and traction on their social media with people interested in getting a booster.
A question some are asking about boosters is, “Do I have to bring my vaccination card with me?” Governor Ralph Northam stated Monday that it’s operating on an honor policy of people being truthful.
Mascari says it’s a good idea to have it with you when going to your appointment.
“We ask folks to bring in their card so we can see the card,” said Mascari. “We also use the Virginia Immunization Information System. We have access to that and are able to look up patients records and make sure they are getting the best dose and correct dose for them.”
At Commonshare, Spencer says she requires patients to fill out an attestation, which is a form confirming they’ve gotten two doses of the vaccine, along with other questions.
Health officials are advising the public to not mix vaccines when getting a booster shot and to stick with the vaccine originally administered.
As of now, most vaccine events and pharmacies are offering boosters by appointment only, call or check online before heading out. If you’d like to get your shot at Commonshare or Bremo Pharmacy they do require appointments.