With booster shots near, you’ll need an appointment to get COVID vaccine in Wake

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Starting Monday, Wake County will be expanding hours at its vaccination locations and adding additional staff to more than double its current capacity for the number of shots it can administer daily.

The county’s five permanent vaccination locations — two of them in Raleigh, one in Fuquay-Varina, one in Wake Forest and the other in Zebulon — will operate under extended hours beginning Monday as part of the county’s preparations for anticipated federal approval of vaccine booster shots, spokesperson Stacy Beard said Saturday.

Each location will be open for an extra half hour, and will have additional nurses available to administer doses. The county expects to more than double its capacity for daily vaccinations across all five sites, from 980 shots per day right now to 2,060 shots per day, Beard said.

Also beginning Monday, the county’s five sites will not be accepting walk-in vaccinations, at least temporarily. Instead, everyone seeking a vaccination, whether it’s their first or second dose, or an additional dose that has been authorized for certain immunocompromised individuals, will have to make an appointment by visiting the Wake County website or calling the North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567.

Temporarily putting the appointment requirement in place is “very important because we don’t want boosters to overshadow those who haven’t gotten their first or second doses yet,” Beard said.

The county is trying to meet demand for everyone who visits one of its locations seeking a vaccination, and that’s why it is expanding capacity, in anticipation of serving people who are just beginning their course of vaccination, or qualify for a booster.

Demand for doses could soon increase if the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve booster shots for additional groups of people beyond those who are immunocompromised.

On Friday, an advisory panel to the FDA rejected recommending Pfizer booster shots for all adults who received the shot at least eight months ago — as the Biden administration has proposed — but did recommend them for people who are 65 or older, or are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

If additional booster shots are approved, Wake County would wait for “additional clinical guidance” from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services before “immediately” opening appointment slots for those who are eligible, the county said in a news release Friday.

In the meantime, each of Wake’s five locations will, as of Monday, offer both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Beard said.

Previously, each site was offering either Pfizer or Moderna, but not both, due to the logistical challenges of storing and preparing both vaccine brands for administration in a single location.

The county has trained nurses and staff who will be operating the sites in administering doses of both vaccines simultaneously, Beard said.

Wake locations and expanded hours

Wake County Human Services Center, 5809 Departure Drive, Raleigh

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wake County Public Health Center, 10 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh

Hours: Monday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wake County Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest

Hours: Monday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wake County Southern Regional Center, 130 N. Judd Parkway NE, Fuquay-Varina

Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.; Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wake County Eastern Regional Center, 1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon

Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.; Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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