This story is updated every week with the latest information on COVID-19 vaccinations and where they are being administered in the Augusta-area.
Health experts continue to urge the use of vaccinations and boosters as safe, effective means of prevention.
Which vaccines are available?
Three vaccinations have been authorized: those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Moderna received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 30. Until this point, the vaccine had had emergency use authorization since Dec. 18, 2020. Though the emergency use authorization came after large safety studies, full approval entails an exhaustive review of the vaccine's safety record, something many unvaccinated people asked for.
Pfizer received full approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Aug. 24.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, while Johnson & Johnson's requires only one. Pfizer requires doses be spaced 21 days apart, whether for adults or children. Moderna spaces doses 28 days apart.
The CDC recommends Pfizer and Moderna as the preferred choice for adults as Johnson & Johnson's has been connected to some fatal blood clots. However, these blood clots are extremely rare. Of the approximate 17 million Americans inoculated with Johnson & Johnson, nine have died from such a clot, seven of whom had pre-existing conditions.
What ages can get vaccinated?
Nearly the whole family can get vaccinated since the CDC approved Pfizer for ages five and older following advisory committee recommendations and clinical trials that found a dose one-third of the adult size was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 for this age group.
The American Academy of Pediatrics reported children becoming severely ill from the virus is uncommon, but new infections have still been a problem. Since March 2020, approximately 19% of the cases have been in children.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still only available to adults, ages 18 and older. However, Moderna announced March 23 it has submitted an emergency use authorization for allowing their vaccine for ages six months to six years.
What is the Omicron variant?
The World Health Organization identified the Omicron variant on Nov. 24. It has proven to be roughly twice as contagious as the Delta variant and four times more than the original virus.
The symptoms seem to be milder for those who are vaccinated, and the CDC has recommended people get boosters (additional doses) as they provide further protection against Omicron as well as weakening the symptoms in those who are infected.
Omicron has two sublineages: BA.1 and BA.2. While BA.1 is the most common form, WHO's Technical Advisory Group reported on Feb. 22 that BA.2 should be reinforced as a variant of concern since initial data shows it's more transmissible.
The CDC's data tracker indicates that, as of last week, all new cases in the Southeast are Omicron BA. 1. BA.2 has seen a huge spike recently, going from approximately 7% on Feb. 26 and to approximately 35% on March 19.
What do boosters, additional doses do?
While full vaccinations continue to be effective against preventing hospitalizations and deaths, studies show further doses would greatly increase a person's preventative antibodies.
Boosters had been approved for ages 16 and older, but that eligibility was recently expanded by the CDC to ages 12 through 15 for anyone seeking a Pfizer booster. Data from Israel found that no new safety concerns were present with 6,300 children who got the booster five months after their second dose.
Pfizer's boosters are recommended five months after being vaccinated, Moderna's is recommended six months after the second dose, and Johnson & Johnson's is recommended two months after inoculation. Boosters for Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are the same dosage as the primary inoculation, while Moderna's is half the dosage. However, those who do not get a booster shot are still considered fully vaccinated.
Mix-and-match boosters have been approved. This means that, as an example, if someone was fully vaccinated for Moderna, wanted a booster, but had some sort of negative reaction to the Moderna, he/she could get a booster of Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson instead.
The terms "booster" and "additional/third dose" have been used interchangeably, and while there is not a chemical difference between the two, Johns Hopkins Medicine clarifies that "boosters" are for anyone who has been fully vaccinated while "additional/third doses" are for fully vaccinated individuals that have moderately to severely compromised immune systems.
Here are some of the Augusta-area's COVID-19 vaccination and booster providers:
Area vaccine locations
The Georgia Department of Public Health is offering vaccinations for ages 5 and older, and boosters for all ages 16 and above. Richmond County offers all three vaccines and doses Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the south Augusta clinic at 2420 Windsor Spring Road and at 950 Laney Walker Boulevard.
Columbia County has Pfizer and Moderna at the clinic at 1930 William Few Parkway in Grovetown on Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Appointments are not required at GDPH clinics. To schedule an appointment at any GDPH location, go to ecphd.com/schedule-online or call (706) 721-5800 in Richmond County and (706) 868-3330 in Columbia County.
The department of public health is also offering vaccinations at residents' homes for anyone who is homebound. In order to set up an at-home vaccination, email HVS@dph.ga.gov or call (888) 572-0112. The patient's name, date of birth, address and phone number will be required when setting up the appointment.
Medical Associates Plus is offering Moderna and Johnson & Johnson at its Golden Camp Road location off Deans Bridge Road in Augusta. The office is open Monday though Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Walmart is offering Moderna and Pfizer for ages 12 and up at all of its Augusta-area locations, including the Neighborhood Markets. Pediatric doses are available at all locations except the Grovetown market. The closest Johnson & Johnson provider is in Waynesboro. Boosters are available at the same locations.
The stores are offering walk-up administrations and pre-scheduled reservations. Customers can access a free, digital vaccine record on their Walmart account. Dates and online registration links can be found on Walmart's website.
Kroger is offering Moderna and/or Pfizer for ages 12 and older at all area locations, except the one in Augusta on Washington Road. Children's doses are available in Grovetown and North Augusta. Boosters/additional doses are also available. For appointment dates and times, go to kroger.com/rx/covid-vaccine.
Christ Community Health has Moderna available at its location on Telfair Street in Augusta. Inoculations require appointments, which can be booked by calling (706) 922-0600 and on cchsaugusta.org.
CVS is administering Pfizer and Moderna, including boosters. Patients can view which vaccine is offered at a location when booking an appointment. Walk-ins and reservations are being accepted in the Augusta-area, including at the in-store pharmacies in both Target locations. Pediatric doses are available in Augusta on Peach Orchard Road and in Evans on Furys Ferry Road. Customers can access a free, digital vaccine record on their CVS account. For more information, go to cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine.
Walgreens is offering Pfizer inoculations and boosters for ages 5 and up. As of March 24, pediatric vaccines for ages 5 to 11 are available at the locations in Hephzibah, Grovetown, Evans and Augusta on Peach Orchard Road, 2803 Wrightsboro Road, Wheeler Road, Columbia Road and Furys Ferry Road. The pharmacy chain is also offering boosters for ages 16 and up.
A single-use coupon of $5 in Walgreens Cash will be given to myWalgreens members that get vaccinated. Appointments are scheduled via phone at 1-800-925-4733, on the Walgreens app and online at walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19. Walk-ins are also accepted. New appointments are made available approximately every two hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Publix is administering vaccines and boosters. Pfizer for ages 12 and older is available in Evans' Riverwood Town Center and North Augusta, while pediatric doses are available at Evans Towne Center and North Augusta. Moderna is at both Evans locations and North Augusta. Johnson & Johnson is only at the Evans Towne Centre location. Walk-ins as well as reservations are allowed. Appointments can be booked at publix.com/covidvaccine.
Sam's Club is offering the vaccine to all eligible individuals, including those who are not Sam's Club members. Reservations and walk-ins are being accepted. For more information and online registration, go to samsclub.com/covid. Patients will have access to digital vaccine records.
Barney's Pharmacy has Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, plus boosters, at its Peach Orchard Road location in Augusta. Appointments are open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. To book one, go to barneysrx.com.
Nightingale Infusion & Pharmacy has Pfizer, including pediatric doses, at its office on Pitcarin Way off Perimeter Parkway in Augusta on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk-ins are available, but to book an appointment outside of the clinic's Wednesday window, call (706) 854-9300 or go to nightingaleprivatehomecare.com.
Costco on Alexander Drive in Augusta has all three vaccines and boosters available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Pediatric doses are available Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. For more information and online registration, go to costco.com/pharmacy.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has all three vaccines available, including boosters and pediatric doses, at its district facilities. Parental consent is required for ages 5 to 15. For more information, call (866) 365-8110 or go to scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine.
North Augusta Pediatrics has been offering Pfizer. Updates can be found on the pediatrics office's Facebook page. Appointments can be made by calling/texting the office at (803) 510-0007 or emailing email@example.com. When texting the office, families are asked to give their child's name and date of birth along with the request.
Daniels' Pharmacy is offering the Pfizer vaccination on Fridays, Moderna on Wednesday and Thursdays, and Johnson & Johnson on Tuesdays at its locations in Barnwell and Blackville, S.C. To book an appointment, go to danielspharmacydme.com/covid-vaccine.
If you are planning a pop-up clinic and would like it included in this list, contact Miguel Legoas at (706) 823-3742 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finding other providers
Available vaccine providers can be found at vaccines.gov, which replaced and is powered by the technology of VaccineFinder. Users can filter particular types of vaccines. All three vaccines, including pediatric doses, will be available. No ID or appointments will be required.
What to bring to an appointment
Here are some things to bring to a vaccination appointment:
Copy of appointment confirmation or email
Government-issued photo ID
(If it is a second or third dose) Proof of vaccination
Some vaccination sites including Walmart and Sam's Club ask for proof of insurance, if any.
What to do after getting vaccinated
At the end of the vaccination appointment, patients should receive a vaccination card that describes what vaccine was administered, along with when and where it was administered. This card is helpful for determining what side effects are possible.
In the event a card is lost, patients can contact their vaccine provider or the state health department’s immunization information system. The FBI warns against posting photos of vaccination cards on social media because they show information that could be used for fraud.
Patients should ask their providers about getting started with v-safe, a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a vaccination.
The CDC says people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine or the single dose of Johnson and Johnson. No other vaccinations should be administered until fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Augusta-area vaccination rates
As of Wednesday, the rates of fully vaccinated individuals are still at 43% in Richmond County, up to 48% in Columbia County and still at 51% in Burke County and up to 46%, according to the DPH. The rates of vaccinations plus boosters are up to 41% in Richmond County, 42% in Columbia County and 40% in Burke County.
Statewide rates are up to 55% for Georgia and 40% fully vaccinated plus boosters.
This article originally appeared on Augusta Chronicle: COVID-19 vaccinations: Where to get one in the Augusta area