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Eligible for a COVID-19 booster? Here’s how to get one in Pa.

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Jamie Martines of Spotlight PA

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Anywhere from one to two million Pennsylvania adults are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster, and state officials say it should be easier to track down the third dose than it was to secure initial shots earlier this year.

People 65 and older, those with certain medical conditions, and workers in high-risk jobs who received a second Pfizer dose more than six months ago are now eligible to receive a booster. (Get more eligibility details from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.)

If you received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, you’ll have to wait for guidance.

Vaccines are now widely available, and it’s not likely providers will experience the same backups and shortages seen across the state when eligibility first opened up to all adults in April, state officials have said.

Many retail pharmacies, like Rite-Aid or CVS, along with grocery stores and independent pharmacies, now have same-day and walk-in appointments for first, second, and booster shots available. Health systems like UPMC, Allegheny Health Network, Penn State Health, and Geisinger are also administering boosters, along with other local health clinics and doctors’ offices.

You do not have to return to the same location where you received your first or second booster shots for your third dose. Search for locations offering COVID-19 vaccines near you, or anywhere in the country, on the CDC’s website at vaccines.gov.

Most nursing homes will handle boosters through existing relationships with local vaccine providers, a state health department spokesperson said. The health department will assist any nursing home that is not yet connected with a local vaccine provider or pharmacy secure booster shots.

Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam ordered vaccine providers on Sept. 21 to not only provide online scheduling for booster appointments, but also to provide a telephone number that connects callers to a live agent to assist with scheduling. Vaccine providers were also ordered to offer walk-in appointments.

Local Area Agencies on Aging, along with Medical Assistance Managed Care Organizations, were ordered to help schedule eligible adults and people who can’t leave their homes — a role those organizations took up earlier this year, as many older adults and others who had trouble navigating the competitive vaccine sign-up system struggled to find appointments.

State officials recommend that anyone who has questions about whether they are eligible for a booster shot consult with their doctor before making an appointment.

Anyone receiving a booster should bring their vaccine card to the booster appointment. The provider will check to make sure that it has been at least six months since you’ve received your second shot, and that you previously received the Pfizer vaccine.

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