NY will use pharmacies and clinics to distribute COVID boosters

COVID-19 booster shots could be rolled out in a few weeks in New York, and their distribution will likely focus on pharmacies, clinics and healthcare networks.

A Centers for Disease Control panel voted on Thursday to approve booster shots for the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 as the fall and winter seasons approach, and with them a potential spike in cases.

State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said Thursday that the state is preparing to distribute COVID-19 booster shots as federal authorities finalize approval. Unlike the initial version of the vaccine, the boosters will not be administered at massive sites.

“We have already placed orders,” she said. “We don’t expect the state to administer them through mass vaccination sites.”

Instead, New York plans to rely on a network of health care providers, clinics and pharmacies to distribute the vaccine.

“We have a very strong network of pharmacies, clinics and private practitioners and there will be a number of places where people can get their shots,” Bassett said.

The relatively low-key approach to the reminder distribution comes as New York is set to relax a series of COVID-19 guidelines in accordance with federal recommendations. Samantha Penta, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security at the University at Albany, said the perception of risk around the pandemic has changed for many people.

“What’s changing is how people think about it — what they think about it — whether it’s your daily life for people working in government agencies,” Penta said. .

COVID-19 remains a risk, however, and state officials have said they will continue to closely monitor hospitalizations and case rates. A test will be aimed at schools as students and teachers return to classrooms with relaxed guidance in place intended to prevent children returning to remote learning.

“COVID-19 is still here,” she said. “It continues to be contagious to spread from person to person. It still has serious health consequences, it still causes death in some people.”

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