Riverwood to offer COVID-19 booster shots

Riverwood Healthcare Center is now offering COVID-19 booster shots to its patients and community members who meet the eligibility criteria during its regularly scheduled weekly Thursday vaccine clinics in Aitkin, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. For an appointment, schedule online at https://RiverwoodCOVIDVaccines.rsvpify.com/ or call 844-428-1323, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The booster shots are only available to those who have gotten the Pfizer vaccine and are six months or more past getting the second shot. Those who may have gotten vaccinated somewhere other than Riverwood may schedule a booster shot at the Aitkin clinic.

“If you are in a category recommended for a booster shot, it’s not urgent to get vaccinated immediately because the Pfizer vaccine is still offering strong protection from serious illness and hospitalization,” said Dr. David Taylor, Riverwood’s chief medical officer. “But try to fit it in this fall as you would an annual flu shot. Now you have a chance to extend your immunity to Covid over a longer period, decreasing the chance of breakthrough illness.”

According to CDC, those groups that should get a booster dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine include: 1) age 65 and older, 2) residents of long-term care facilities; and 3) those 50 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions, including cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease including COPD, diabetes, heart conditions, HIV, immunocompromised, liver disease, overweight and obesity, pregnancy, Sickle Cell disease, smoking (current or former), solid organ or blood stem cell transplant, stroke or cerebrovascular disease, or substance use disorder. People ages 18 to 49 who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to the underlying medical conditions named here may get a booster shot if the personal benefits for them outweigh the personal risks.

Another category of those recommended for a booster shot is people ages 18-64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of where they live or work, including first responders (health care workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff); education staff, food and agriculture workers; manufacturing workers; corrections workers, U.S. postal services workers, public transit workers; and grocery store workers.

For more information, see COVID-19 booster shot eligibility criteria on the Minnesota Department of Health website at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/locations/index.jsp

Currently, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is also recommending that moderately to severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose. This is different from a booster and needs to be 28 days past second shot. This includes people who have: 1) been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood; 2) received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system; 3) received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system; 4) moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome); 5) advanced or untreated HIV infection; or 6) active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.

COVID-19 booster shots are not yet available for those who got Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.