Demand for Booster Shots Low Across Southern Tier

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, the Southern Tier may not be getting the boost it needs.

“We have a [vaccine] clinic every Friday and we only had 30 people come out for it,” Steuben County Public Health Director Darlene Smith said. “At this point in time, I’m not going to schedule any booster-specific vaccination clinics until I see more interest.”

The CDC and FDA recommend that anyone who’s immunocompromised or 65 and older and fully vaccinated with the Pfizer shot roll up their sleeve for the third time, though only a small portion of residents in the Southern Tier have done that.

“My counterparts across the state, other public health directors are reporting also that the response rate is slow,” Smith said. “[We know] there was vaccine hesitancy to begin with, and I’m not sure that’s just gonna automatically disappear when it comes time for booster shots. I think some of that hesitancy just kind of rolls over to each dose.”

Aside from hesitancy, health experts told 18 News eligible populations may have gotten the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has yet to get the green light from the FDA to administer a third dose.

Health officials are also pushing the flu shot, but recommend prioritizing the COVID-19 vaccine first, though Dr. Justin Nistico of Arnot Health says it’s safe to receive both at the same time.

“There’s no contraindication to doing that,” Dr. Nistico said. “The only thing I would say to some people is that there may be some hesitancy to getting vaccinated all at one time, and they may not want to have that experience.”

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