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COVID booster shots to be offered at Gainesville free clinic. Here's what you need to know
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Lanier Technical College student Diana Gomez gets set to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, during the Hall County Health Department's vaccine clinic at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

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Booster shots were recently approved by the Centers for Disease Control and will be available at an all-day vaccination clinic at the Gainesville Civic Center Oct. 6. 

The clinic will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to all Hall County residents 12 and older, and those who get the shot can win prizes such as TVs, gift cards, $50 gas cards, food coupons, cash and more. Flu shots will also be administered. 

State officials announced in a press conference Thursday that the state will follow new federal guidelines on administering booster shots. 

Only those who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be eligible. Six months must have passed since their second dose, and they must meet other requirements related to age and health status. To learn more about boosters shots and to find out if you are eligible, visit the Northeast Georgia Health System website and fill out the questionnaire. 

People can receive their booster shot at any of the other local vaccination clinics, and no appointments are necessary. District 2 reopened its mass vaccination sites across most of its 13 counties on Sept. 27, and you can find an available clinic on its website

“We have enough evidence at this point that we need to boost that immunity from the vaccine to even protect us from symptomatic infection,” said Dr. Supriya Mannepalli, director of infectious disease for NGHS. “So that's why they approved the boosters, but it should not divert us from what we need to be doing, that is to increase our vaccination rates.” 

The Centers for Disease Control says the following people “should” get a booster shot: 

  • Anyone 65 years and older.

  • Anyone in a long-term care setting (e.g., nursing home).

  • Anyone 50-64 years old who has underlying medical conditions.

The CDC says the following groups “may” get the booster shot:

  • Anyone 18-49 years old with underlying medical conditions.

  • Anyone 18-64 years old who is “at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting.”

Free COVID-19 shots and flu shots

When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 6

Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville

After weeks of vigorous debate among U.S. health officials, Rachelle Walensky, the director for the Centers for Disease Control, overruled her own advisory panel to recommend booster shots for those at higher risk of infection and severe disease. 

“I believe we can best serve the nation’s public health needs by providing booster doses for the elderly, those in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions and for adults at high risk of disease from occupational and institutional exposures to COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. 

The FDA is reviewing data on whether to recommend booster shots of Moderna and is awaiting data on boosters from Johnson & Johnson. Eligibility is expected to expand over time to the entire population, Walensky said. 

“Although the booster dose is not required, it will help fully vaccinated people maintain protection over the coming months,” the Georgia Department of Public Health said in a press release. “It is important to note, COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death, but with the introduction of the Delta variant, public health experts noticed a reduction of protections against mild and moderate disease.” 

Mannepallli said healthcare workers lined up in droves when the booster shot was authorized. 

“We knew based on the studies for the last two or three months that, especially for those of us who got the Pfizer, we need the booster. So we're really happy finally to see this authorization coming through so we can get the boosters. And I think the ones who lined up initially when the vaccine was authorized in December, we all lined up again to get our boosters, so we had long lines last Friday at our vaccine clinic.” 

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