For the most part, the booster club has been relatively exclusive – limited largely to people who got two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during the original rollout, and only specific subsets of those recipients.
But that may change soon, with authorizations in the pipeline for both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster vaccines.
On Friday, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration endorsed a booster shot for people who received the single-dose J&J vaccine. That applies to more than 15 million recipients of the vaccine in the United States.
That news comes after the same committee on Thursday recommended a third dose of the Moderna vaccine – for anyone over 65 or at high risk from the coronavirus, the same groups now eligible for a Pfizer booster.
The FDA is expected to rule within a few days on both recommendations, at which point the baton will be handed over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What about mixing and matching vaccines? The FDA has also started to look at the possibility of giving people who got the J&J vaccine a dose of a different vaccine approved in the United States. But there’s no timetable set for a decision on that.
Meanwhile, Pfizer third dose administration continues in the Berkshires. Berkshire Health Systems said it has a “good supply” of Pfizer for both booster and first/second doses.
The hospital system recommends making an appointment through its patient portal, berkshirehealthsystems.org/patientportal, but you can also call the hotline.
KEY STATS: Berkshire County saw three new COVID-19 deaths during the past week. To date, the county has 318 reported deaths. The confirmed case count rose by 201 over the past week, to 8,479. The most recent 14-day test positivity rate reported for the county was 1.6 percent, as of Oct. 13.
STATE PICTURE: The state Department of Public Health said 81 new confirmed deaths were reported during the past week, pushing the statewide total to 18,439. Over the past week, confirmed cases rose by 9,007, to 777,475.
VACCINATIONS: According to the state’s latest report, 74 percent of Berkshire County residents have received at least one shot and 65 percent are vaccinated fully.
Note that this data, while the best available estimate, still might not accurately reflect the county’s vaccination rates for several reasons.
Part-time residents who moved to the county during the pandemic, or who left and received their shots elsewhere, might be artificially raising or lowering the rate. People who got vaccinated in other states are not counted in the data. The rates provided by the state also rely on census estimates, rather than new census data.
Town-by-town rates provided by the state also are inaccurate in many cases, since the state collects that data by ZIP code, and many Berkshire County municipalities share ZIP codes.
COMMUNITY DATA: Here are this week’s figures from the DPH on confirmed coronavirus cases by city and town. In alphabetical order, this lists all Berkshire County communities. The first number is the total number of cases during the pandemic. The second is the number of new cases during the past 14 days. These data are accurate as of Oct. 9.
Adams: 492; 25
Alford: Fewer than 5; 0
Becket: 99; fewer than 5
Cheshire: 178; 15
Clarksburg: 72; 10
Dalton: 395; 13
Egremont: 24; 0
Florida: 24; 5
Great Barrington: 547; 0
Hancock: 21; fewer than 5
Hinsdale: 90; fewer than 5
Lanesborough: 163; 9
Lee: 404; 14
Lenox: 299; 6
Monterey: 31; fewer than 5
Mount Washington: 7; 0
New Ashford: 6; 0
New Marlborough: 37; fewer than 5
North Adams: 841; 49
Otis: 90; fewer than 5
Peru: 15; 0
Pittsfield: 3,718; 116
Richmond: 53; fewer than 5
Sandisfield: 72; fewer than 5
Savoy: 28; fewer than 5
Sheffield: 139; fewer than 5
Stockbridge: 83; fewer than 5
Tyringham: 14; fewer than 5
Washington: 16; fewer than 5
West Stockbridge: 55; fewer than 5
Williamstown: 363; 14
Windsor: 32; fewer than 5
WIDER WORLD OF COVID: Global cases top 239,869,914, with 4,886,244 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has seen at least 44,809,297 cases and 722,513 deaths.
Across the world, more than 6.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered, Johns Hopkins reports. More than 403 million of those have been administered in the U.S.
HOSPITAL CHECK: Berkshire Health Systems reported caring for five COVID-19 patients as of Friday. Statewide, 541 people are hospitalized, 140 are in intensive care units and 80 are intubated.
COVID-19 VACCINES: You can get vaccinated at many local pharmacies, in addition to the following locations:
• Pittsfield COVID-19 Testing Center at 505 East St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• The North Adams COVID-19 Testing Center at 98 Church St. is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Fairview Hospital at 29 Lewis Ave. in Great Barrington is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Appointments are required at all locations. Call 855-262-5465 or visit berkshirepatientportal.com.
Also, Community Health Programs posts the schedule for its mobile vaccination van at chpberkshires.org/mobile. Vaccines are available with no appointment necessary. For information call 413-429-2946.
TESTING: “Stop the Spread” testing sites are open at three Berkshire Health Systems locations. Tests will be conducted for any reason, with the state picking up the cost. To schedule a test, call the toll-free hotline, 855-262-5465, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Locations are: Pittsfield, 505 East St., St Luke’s Square, adjacent to BHS Urgent Care Center; North Adams, 98 Church St., next to the city library; Great Barrington: 475 Main St. Tests also can be obtained through CVS by filling out a form online.
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