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Health officials start push for second COVID booster shot

Shortly after the FDA approved a second COVID booster for those at least 50 or immunocompromised, health officials are urging those that're eligible to get the shot.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It's been about a week since the FDA approved a second COVID booster shot for people at least 50 years old and those that are immunocompromised.

Throughout the pandemic we've seen many rush to their local pharmacies and clinics whenever new vaccine eligibility is announced, but this time it's a little different. 

Between pandemic fatigue and the three previous shots, people may have let this announcement fly under the radar. This increased vaccine eligibility and push from health officials now has many asking why do I need another if I already have three?

Well, Dr. Robert Hopkins of UAMS, said that's because this shot is just as important as the very first one you received.

"Let's get that high level of immunity back up there because we sure don't want to see those folks in the hospital," he said.

As it stands, you're eligible to get a second booster shot if it's been at least four months since your last booster and you're either immunocompromised or at least 50 years old.

With that in mind, many are wondering why it's so important to get the second booster shot and Dr. Hopkins said there's a good reason for it. 

"We do know that those that have gotten a single booster are still highly protected against having severe disease, but taking this booster helps again reduce that rate even further," he said.

So the big question is, do you need to rush to get it? Well, that depends. 

Dr. Hopkins urges those with health issues to head to a local pharmacy as soon as they can. But, his advice is a little different for those that are healthy and eligible.

"You don't need to rush in and make it an emergency to get it done. You should get it done, but you can take your time a little bit," he said.

That relaxed approach is a mentality that's already being adopted by some in the state as it's something that Randy Kassissieh is seeing at his pharmacy in North Little Rock.

"We may have given out a handful of second boosters, that's about it right now," he said.

That handful of shots is a complete 180 when Kassissieh compares it to the first round of booster shots.

"We were probably doing hundreds those weeks. Probably 30 or 40 in a day and now we're doing 25 in a week," he said.

That's not the case for all pharmacies though, as it's a bit of a different story at Freiderica Pharmacy and Compounding

Owner Lyn Fruchey said there's a good turnout, but he believes it's been a tad slower because of the smaller patient group and lower infections.

"People are kind of having a wait and see thought. A lot of them are," he said.

No matter where your head is at, health officials said 'get that second boost.'

"I don't want to let our guard down, when we're at a point where life is moving back towards normal," Fruchey said.

Dr. Hopkins said he's not sure when or if they'll expand the eligibility for the second booster to other age groups, but he is hopeful we will be talking about getting kids five and under that first dose soon.

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