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COVID vaccine booster questions answered

Even with COVID numbers decreasing, Dr. Kathleen Toomey is cautioning people to not let their guards down.

ATLANTA — Governor Brian Kemp and Dr. Kathleen Toomey gave the latest COVID numbers at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol.

The good news is COVID case numbers and hospitalizations are decreasing. During the latest surge, in late August and early September, Georgia was seeing more than 6,000 cases a day. Right now, the Peach State is averaging 3,700 new cases a day.

During the press conference, they took time to clear up confusion when it comes to boosters.

"One simple way to think about the criteria to get a booster is simple. Number one: You previously received a Pfizer vaccine and you’re over the age of 18,” said Toomey.

The CDC is now recommending a Pfizer booster shot if you are 65 or older, live in a long-term care facility, or have a serious underlying medical condition, like obesity, diabetes, severe asthma, or dementia.

But Toomey says the recommendation also extends to anyone who works in a setting that is considered high risk – which covers a huge swath of the population.

"Everything from healthcare workers, teachers, poultry plant workers, mailmen," Toomey said.

Toomey also stressed the importance of the booster shot for pregnant women.

"Another high risk condition is pregnancy. So if they haven't been vaccinated, it's safe to get vaccinated and get a booster if it's been six months," Toomey said.

According to the CDC, more than a quarter million pregnant women have gotten COVOD since the start if the pandemic. 22,000 have been hospitalized and 161 have died.

Piedmont Dr. Saju Mathew says the Delta variant has been a game changer in danger to pregnant women, and says that the number of vaccinated pregnant women is still low.

"The latest numbers are that only 30% of pregnant women have been vaccinated, so we still have a long way to go and if you get COVID in pregnancy it not only affects the mom but the baby as well," said Mathew.

For people wondering if it’s safe to get a booster and flu shot at the same time, Mathew says you'd wait a week in between ideally. But ultimately, it’s fine. You may just experience slight discomfort.

"The side effects from the flu vaccine is similar to COVID vaccination: Pain at injection site, chills. So resting up, drink plenty of fluids, take Tylenol," Mathew said.

Toomey also emphasized boosters are only approved right now if you received the Pfizer vaccine. She also stressed two doses of Pfizer is considered fully vaccinated with the booster being an option, not mandatory.

She expects we’ll see guidance for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the coming weeks.


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