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UPDATED: COVID-19 booster shots now available at health district clinics

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After closing in June, the COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at the old Gander Mountain retail store in Woodbridge will reopen to administer COVID-19 booster shots, county officials say.

The Prince William Health District began administering COVID-19 booster shots to those who are eligible on Monday and will continue to do so on a walk-in basis at both mobile vaccine clinics and the vaccine clinic at the Manassas Mall, officials said.

The health district announced earlier this month that it planned to reopen its mass vaccination center at the old Gander Mountain store for booster shots when they were approved. As of Monday, Sept. 27, however, the health district had not yet announced when the clinic at the store would reopen. 

Meanwhile, the booster shots -- as well as first, second and third COVID-19 vaccine shots -- will be available at the mobile vaccine clinics as well as at the Manassas Mall, the Prince William Health District announced in a press release.

The Manassas Mall vaccine clinic is open on Mondays from noon to 4 p.m. for first, second and third COVID-19 vaccine shots as well as booster shots.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday, Sept. 24, that it would approve COVID-19 booster shots for eligible people who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago.

People eligible to receive the booster shots include Americans ages 65 and older, adults with underlying medical conditions and adults in high-risk working and institutional settings. The authorization opens boosters to more than 20 million people who received their second Pfizer shots more than six months ago.

The CDC told its advisers that there would be no requirements to submit documentation to prove that people have the underlying conditions or work in at-risk settings, according to news reports.

People with health conditions that compromise their immune systems have been eligible for a third shot for the last few weeks.

Following Friday’s announcement, Virginia’s state vaccination coordinator Dr. Danny Avula issued a statement saying Virginia “welcomes the decision” from the CDC and is working with its vaccination partners -- private healthcare providers, pharmacies and other institutions -- to prepare to administer the extra shots.

The VDH is also “establishing other vaccination sites to ensure eligible Virginians will be able to access a booster dose when it’s recommended,” Avula’s statement said.

“We are confident that we will have enough supply, and that access will be widely available,” Avula said.

Avula added that people should not feel rushed to get a booster shot. 

“There is no need to rush to get your booster at six months and one day,” he wrote. “VDH will provide information about accessing a booster dose on vaccinate.virginia.gov where you can search for and schedule a booster vaccination appointment.”

Both the state health department and the local health district said they continue to prioritize their efforts on vaccinating those who remain unvaccinated because they are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 and becoming more severely ill. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have been rising across the nation and, in Virginia, since July as a result of the spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

“VDH’s top priority remains increasing vaccination rates in Virginia because those who are unvaccinated remain at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19,” Avula said. 

The Prince William Health District “want[s] to encourage those who are not vaccinated and [at] more of a risk [of getting] COVID-19" to get vaccinated, said Sean Johnson, Prince William Health District’s director of community outreach, said in a Friday email. “So, we are increasing clinics to accommodate that population.”

Everyone 12 or older is eligible to be vaccinated. To find free vaccines nearby, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish,and more than 100 other languages.

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