BREAKING: Free COVID-19 vaccine boosters, which specifically target the current BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, cases of which are expected to continue to increase with the onset of winter weather, now are becoming available in Allegany County.
The first public clinics will be held from 10AM to 7PM this Thursday, September 22, at the Cuba Cultural Center, Inc., 38 East Main Street, and from 7AM to noon Saturday, September 24, at the Genesee Valley Central School, 1 Jaguar Drive, just north of Belmont.
Saturday’s clinic, for booster shots only, will be conducted by the Allegany County Department of Health during a limited-time portion of the free all-day Saturday-Sunday Remote Area Medical (RAM) mobile clinic which is providing free medical, dental, and vision services, including eyeglasses, to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Cuba clinic, which will be held again on Thursday, October 20, will offer both basic shots and boosters.
New Pfizer boosters, known as bivalent because they target both the original strain and the current variants, are available for ages 12-and-over, with Moderna boosters having been approved for ages 18-and-over, but only after individuals have received the basic monovalent series protection against the original strain
They also must undergo a waiting period of at least two months after completing their primary vaccine series or any boosters which had been authorized previously, according to the State Health Department.
The new bivalent boosters can be from a different manufacturer than the original monovalent series, health officials report.
Special vaccination and booster rules also apply to children under 12 years of age and to those who are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised.
Additional county health department COVID-19 vaccine clinics are being planned for October and basic shots and boosters also are available by appointment at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville and some local pharmacies.
Allegany County, NY, continues to have the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the state at 50.7 percent for first doses and 47.4 percent for completed initial series, compared with a statewide rate of 83.4 and 75.4 percent respectively. The prior booster rate for county residents who are eligible is at 54.4 percent.
Flu shots also are being strongly encouraged for individuals, particularly senior citizens, with both vaccines able to be given at the same time. However, flu shots aren’t being provided at either of this week’s clinics.
The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) has reported that this year’s flu season could be significantly more severe than recent years when persons were exercising prevention measures due to the pandemic and the total number of flu cases dropped dramatically.
The AARP article is at https://bit.ly/3dyBfL3, with the State Health Department COVID-19 vaccine boosters website, including frequently asked questions, at https://on.ny.gov/3BXdbv0. The Allegany County Department of Health can be reached at (585) 268-9250.
Allegany County is continuing to request that those testing positive through self or home tests enter the information at https://bit.ly/3zymEWF to aid in better determination as to the number of cases in the county and their general locations.
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