Blount Memorial Hospital is now offering Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for people who received the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago.

Hospital officials are recommending the booster as a way to further protect against the virus and the dangerous delta variant.

“I encourage anyone who is eligible to get a booster shot to take it as soon as you can,” Blount Memorial Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harold Naramore said. “The data on the booster shot’s effectiveness is outstanding, and that’s largely based on what we’re seeing come out of Israel. There, it shows that it boosts an individual’s immunity by about 95%, even with breakthrough cases.”

According to the hospital’s website, the booster shots are available through appointment only. Those who “received their second dose of Pfizer prior to April 22 or 29” and have not received monoclonal antibodies in the past 90 days may schedule an appointment.

Within those stipulations, Naramore said criteria for who is eligible for the booster is “broad,” adding that “a lot of people can get it if they choose to take it.”

“It’s readily available in our community, and I hope that those who are at least six months out from their second dose of Pfizer will continue to protect themselves by taking this booster shot,” Naramore said.

Appointments for the Pfizer booster can be made on the hospital’s website.

Meanwhile, the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots Wednesday afternoon. Those shots are not yet available at Blount Memorial.

“Right now, only Pfizer booster shots are available, but that could change at any moment,” Naramore said. “Currently, the FDA and the CDC are reviewing information for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters, and as those become available, I strongly encourage individuals in this community to take those as they are eligible, too.”

As the booster shots become available in Blount County, Naramore continues to stress the importance of the vaccines in the fight against the virus.

“If you’ve not had previous doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not too late to get first or second doses, either,” Naramore said. “The more people we can get vaccinated, the better our community will be positioned to fight future surges of coronavirus.”

Naramore has continually cited the effectiveness of the vaccines at preventing serious illness and death from COVID. He also has issued another warning about misinformation surrounding the vaccines in an attempt to dispel concerns some individuals have about getting the shot.

“I continue to emphasize the facts about the coronavirus vaccines, and I encourage individuals to not get caught up in the misinformation that’s out there. Vaccines have been given for 10 months now, and no serious reactions, outside of what you’d expect for a new vaccine, have been reported,” Naramore said. “Additionally, if you are vaccinated and considered to be fully immune, it is very unlikely you will need to be hospitalized or that you will die from COVID. And finally, not being vaccinated puts you, your family and friends, and our community at significant risk.”

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