Q&A  – Are People Getting COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Who Shouldn’t Be?

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Q&A Of The Day – Are People Getting COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Who Shouldn’t Be?

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 


Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio 

Today’s entry: So on my next door app lots of people are stating they received their covid boosters yet boosters only currently are recommended for severely immunocompromised individuals. Have heard just going to pharmacy and asking and getting...so are pharmacies not checking FLA shots database... Are all these boosters getting recorded as new vaccines? Another opportunity for stats to be screwed up and vaccine rates to appear higher than they are.

Bottom Line: Well, there are a few different explanations for what could be happening in your example. You could have a number of immune compromised neighbors. You could have a number of dishonest neighbors. You could have a combination of the two. First, the definition of immune compromised recognized by the CDC for the purpose of obtaining a COVID-19 booster is broader than a lot of people realized. Everyone over the age of 12 immunized at least 28 days prior with a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine with one of these conditions is currently eligible:

  • Those with HIV/AIDS
  • Cancer patients
  • Transplant recipients
  • Those with an immunodeficiency (such as low white blood cell counts)
  • Anyone being treated with a prescribed drug which suppresses the immune system
  • Those who’ve had stem cell treatments
  • Those who’ve been recommended by their doctor to receive one

That’s a wider net than the original reporting probably sounded like. While the initial estimates were that around seven million Americans were immediately eligible, that number is indeterminate because of the the doctor recommendation. If you’re uncertain if you’re in this situation, the CDC recommends following your doctor’s guidance. So, if you want a booster and your doctor recommends you receive one, that creates an indeterminate pool of people. And that’s part of the broader story. While the initial approval for those who are immune compromised sounds highly restrictive, the actual guidance is actually open ended. In other words, health authorities seem to be inclined to error on the side of those who may need it getting it as opposed to being highly limiting in who can gain access. And that takes us to what actually happens when you go to get a booster. 

Currently, pharmacies are requiring that you confirm you fit into one of the categories to obtain a booster but there’s no universal or official documentation for anyone to provide so it’s mostly working on the honor system. It’s here where it’s possible some people who’ve chosen to be dishonest could potentially falsely attest to being immunocompromised to obtain the booster. As for your question regarding the Florida Shots database and whether booster shots could skew the overall vaccination rates. That’s not an issue. 

Vaccination records are kept in the Florida Shots Database so all prior COVID-19 vaccine records would be available to the pharmacy administering the vaccinations and one’s prior vaccination status is being checked by pharmacies as they must ensure it’s been at least 28 days prior to administering the vaccines. What the database doesn’t have is one’s medical information for a pharmacist to know if you’re truly compromised or not. Boosters are being tracked as a 3rd vaccination dose for official purposes, so they don’t impact overall vaccination rates.

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