Some Houston-area hospitals and clinics are preparing to administer COVID-19 booster shots after the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended a third Pfizer shot for a larger segment of the general population.
The CDC recommended a third Pfizer shot for people 65 years and older, residents in nursing homes, and immunocompromised people who are 50 years and older. Immunocompromised people between the ages of 18 and 49, as well as health care workers, may also get the shot, according to the CDC.
Last month, a third Pfizer dose was made available to those with weakened immune systems caused either by illness, medical treatments, or organ transplants.
The Memorial Hermann health system began administering a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to immunocompromised individuals last month, and initially planned to begin booster shots for the general public starting the week of Sept. 20.
Those plans were halted last week after a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended against Pfizer’s plans to give a third shot to people 16 years and older. However, the committee later recommended the shot for people 65 and older or those who are immunocompromised — a recommendation that the FDA officially authorized on Wednesday.
After the CDC followed suit on Friday, Memorial Hermann planned to begin administering the Pfizer booster shot on Saturday during a vaccination event in collaboration with Humble ISD.
James McCarthy, the chief physician executive at Memorial Hermann, said that he — along with many of his colleagues — agreed with broadening eligibility for the booster shot.
“Health care workers, bartenders, school teachers,” McCarthy said. “Giving them the opportunity to be vaccinated helps keep our workforce safe and helps prevent transmission in those complex settings.”
McCarthy added that the amount of booster shot appointments scheduled for next week at the health system had already tripled.
Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, said the hospital system would begin administering booster shots to eligible people starting on Monday.
According to Boom, Methodist has been administering about 500 third doses per day, but he expected that number to increase next week as the eligible population begins to grow.
“We expect to be doing many, many of these,” Boom said. “I expect we’re gonna start seeing dramatic uptick from that next week, and we’re ready to do that.”
CVS clinics across the country — including 495 locations in Texas — began administering Pfizer booster shots to eligible individuals on Friday, according to a press release.
The news comes after the World Health Organization earlier this month recommended against administering booster shots through the end of the year.
As of Friday, about 71% of eligible Texans have been partially vaccinated, while nearly 60% have been fully vaccinated, according to state data. Across the entire state, 2,867 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Friday, according to data from the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.