With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approving another shot for those who are considered moderately to severely immunocompromised, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. wants to assure the community that the CNMI has an adequate supply of vaccines on hand.
According to CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña, although there is a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center and an ongoing traveling COVID-19 vaccine community outreach, the CNMI is on top of its supply of COVID-19 vaccines and can currently handle the demand for majority to get vaccinated and boosted.
Currently, Muña said, the CNMI has hundreds of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in its inventory and can adequately provide boosters, as well as the first two initial doses for those who may need it.
Dr. Lily Muldoon, CHCC public health medical director, said a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines isn’t a limitation for the CNMI.
“We have hundreds of doses for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available. I think that we really have the ability to provide vaccines for anybody who decides to get vaccinated or get their booster. If we start to have any signal that we are running low because of demand, our vaccine team is on top of it. I don’t think that [running low on vaccines] is a current limitation or worry of ours,” she said.
Last week, the CDC approved the first booster for those moderately to severely immunocompromised. However, only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved as boosters for those considered immunocompromised.
Muldoon noted, however, that she sees the CDC approving a second booster for the general public soon.
“I see that as a definite possibility. We follow what the CDC guidelines instruct us. I think similar to the way the first booster was rolled out, they first saved it for the highest risk individuals and then quickly over time, other people were eligible, I think it will be similar with this fourth shot. More people will be eligible over the next coming weeks or months,” she said.
According to guidance from CHCC, people ages 12 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received a mRNA vaccine for their primary series (Pfizer or Moderna) should receive a total of four doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
The four doses are made up of a primary series of three doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, plus one booster of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, fourth dose. The mRNA booster will be given at least three months after the third dose of a mRNA vaccine.
People ages 18 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised and received the first dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine should get a second dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines
They should also receive a booster, also an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, in most situations given at least two months after the second dose for a total of three doses.