COVID-19 booster shots are now available to WVU students and employees, as well as Morgantown residents, through WVU Medicine Student Health and their partnership with the Monongalia County Health Department.
Currently, the University will only be administering the Pfizer and Moderna booster shots. The Johnson & Johnson booster is not being offered at this time.
On Oct. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to include people that are over 18 who live in long-term care, have underlying medical conditions or work or live in “high-risk settings.” Anyone 65 years or older is also eligible.
Some examples of high risk settings include working in the food service industry or teaching a class on campus.
With this opening, the majority of the University’s employees and students will now fall into one of these categories. However, many students may not realize that they are eligible, according to Dr. Carmen Burrell, medical director of WVU Student Health Services and Urgent Care.
“I think there are a lot of people who fall into high-risk situations or occupations or have some of these health conditions that are younger who do qualify and may not realize it,” Burrell said.
For example, one of the eligibility criteria for those who are 18 and older with underlying health conditions is obesity or overweight, which is defined by a BMI of 25 or greater.
The 18 and older eligibility criteria has also expanded to include individuals with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, according to the CDC.
Both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration have approved the use of COVID-19 booster shots that do not match the individual’s original vaccine, meaning someone that received the Moderna vaccine may get the Pfizer booster. This is also the case for recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
It is recommended that those who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines for their initial doses wait six months before getting their booster. The Johnson & Johnson has a lower efficacy rate, so its recommended wait period is only two months after the initial dose.
Booster shots will be available at a number of pop-up clinics operated by WVU Medicine and the Monongalia County Health Department.
The University will offer the Moderna booster at the Student Rec Center on Nov. 3, 10 and 17 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. by appointment.
Walk-ins for the Pfizer booster will be offered at the Rec Center on Mondays from 1-3 p.m.
Although there are listed qualifications for the booster, the clinics are not requiring proof of eligibility. The only requirement is the vaccine card that documents initial doses.
“I think right now, since it is open to interpretation, no one has to supply job verification or medical information other than the proof of the initial two vaccines,” Burrell said.
However, Burrell encourages all interested in receiving the booster to read about eligibility and discuss the matters with either their healthcare provider or Student Health.
The clinics are also open to almost anyone, regardless of association with the University.
“So even if you have friends or visitors or family and it’s a little bit easier for them to get vaccinated here, or you know, sometimes it helps to have family or friends’ support, then any of these patients can present to the clinic,” Burrell said.
The University is encouraging all students and employees to receive booster shots.
“I would encourage anyone who falls into these categories to definitely receive a booster vaccine,” Burrell said. “I think for a lot of individuals, they are past the six month mark, and we have found that immunity wanes. So going into winter, I think it is important to make sure everyone has adequate antibodies to protect.”