Island Challenged By Access To COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots

Government health agencies on Friday endorsed COVID-19 booster shots for all adults, and are urging people 50 and older to seek one as coronavirus cases rise ahead of the holiday season. On Nantucket, however, the availability of COVID-19 booster shots has been limited for more than a month, and some island residents are raising concerns about access to the vaccine as the town reimposes its indoor mask mandate this week. 

At Nantucket Cottage Hospital, there have been no booster shot appointments available for several weeks. Dan’s Pharmacy is offering the Moderna vaccine booster on Tuesdays and Thursdays, completing approximately 180 appointments per week, but it is already booked out until mid-December. Pharmacy owner Dan Balling indicated the hospital had been referring patients seeking a booster shot to his business on Pleasant Street. 

“We’re here to help the community of Nantucket in any way possible whether that be doing COVID-19 shots or filling prescriptions,” Balling said. “With that being said we would like to thank the hospital and the businesses around Nantucket for referring to us and keeping up with the high density workflow Nantucket is experiencing.”

Health Imperatives is also offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots on Thursdays, conducting approximately 40 appointments per week. But some island residents have found the decentralized system confusing and difficult to navigate, with appointments hard to come by. The town’s weekly COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Pleasant Street trailer is offering first and second doses, but no booster shots, referring those inquires to the hospital. 

Nantucket Cottage Hospital has been offering Pfizer booster shots since Oct. 18 by appointment only to those who meet eligibility requirements. Last week it began offering pediatric vaccinations for children in the 5 to 11 age group. But some island residents seeking appointments for a COVID-19 booster shot at NCH have repeatedly received the “no available appointments” message on the hospital’s Patient Gateway site. It’s unclear how many COVID-19 booster shots the hospital is offering on a weekly basis. 

“We’re currently working to identify additional resources to expand booster shot appointment availability,” hospital public information manager James Lanza said. “Since opening our COVID-19 vaccine clinic to pediatric patients earlier this week, we have had to begin balancing our resources between pediatric patients receiving their first doses with adults receiving both Pfizer and Moderna boosters. Our priority is to ensure that Nantucketers, both children and adults, have access to COVID-19 vaccines.”


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