Health officials hoping for honesty to be eligible for third COVID booster

National

ROCK HILL, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – People are getting COVID-19 booster shots early before it’s their turn, and pharmacists suspect not everyone is telling the truth about their eligibility.

Carolina Pharmacy says they’re getting calls from older people and those who have diabetes or heart disease who aren’t yet eligible but really want a third shot.

Olivia Hill fills prescriptions.

“It is 100% the honest policy,” said Olivia Hill, a pharmacist at Carolina Pharmacy in Rock Hill.

She’s not around to be the vaccine police.

“People absolutely do want their third dose as quickly as they can get it,” said Hill.

But right now people who are immunocompromised, including active and recent cancer and organ transplant patients, are the only ones eligible for a COVID booster.

“We’ve received calls from numerous patients who are not technically immunocompromised,” said Hill.

The pharmacy doesn’t ask for medical proof that someone is immunocompromised.

“I’m guessing people have not been honest?” asked Fox 46’s Robin Kanady.

“There are, and we try to do our best by abiding by the honest policy and trusting people but we do know that vaccines save lives, so we try to weigh the risk versus benefit,” said Hill.

One million people have gotten an unauthorized third shot of Pfizer or Moderna before it’s their turn, according to a CDC report obtained by ABC News.

“It’s not detrimental. It’s just not necessarily as effective as a later boost,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe with Duke University Hospital.

Dr. Wolfe says waiting for your turn may be more beneficial.

“There’s a long history in vaccinology that sometimes waiting a little bit extra time is in fact appropriate to gain the strongest response, that’s been seen in Europe by their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. They believe they’re getting somewhat of a better response by delaying the gap between dose one and dose two,” said Dr. Wolfe.

Olivia will be ready whenever each of her patients shows up for the shot.

“I do suspect over this month in September those calls to increase,” said Hill.

The CDC has a plan for everyone else to start getting their COVID boosters eight months after their second dose of Pfizer and Moderna. That could start as early as September 20th.

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