Columbia and Greene counties are marshalling their health care forces to administer COVID-19 booster shots. We hope there is a flood of demand for them and not the trickle that concluded the first and second round of vaccinations.

Columbia County health officials expect to administer COVID-19 booster shots from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to as many as 700 eligible residents Friday, pending final federal and state approvals.

Meanwhile, Greene County officials are looking to put plans in place to make COVID-19 booster shots available for some recipients of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The preparations follow on the heels of authorization for booster shots from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, but approval from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunizations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health’s Clinical Advisory Task Force are also required before the counties can take action.

Each county is determining the inventory of inoculations that are expected to be provided by the state. The first step will be to register homebound patients first, then other individuals over age 65 who are susceptible to the virus due to medical conditions. Booster shots were authorized by the FDA for individuals ages 65 and older, and people of any age who are immunocompromised, who had received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson inoculations. To be eligible for the booster, the individual must have completed the Moderna vaccination series at least six months ago, or the Johnson & Johnson single-dose inoculation at least two months ago.

The pandemic continues to have an impact on this area. New cases have slowed, but hospitalizations and deaths are still with us. We know science has shown vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent COVID-19, including the most serious consequences of the disease. The available data suggest waning immunity in some populations that are fully vaccinated. Availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease. Will the booster shots reduce the number of positive cases? Will they save lives?

Ten new positive cases and 11 hospitalizations were reported Thursday in Greene County. In Columbia County, 17 new positives and three hospitalizations were reported Thursday. The combined death toll from COVID in both counties is 185. There’s your answer.

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