Russell County Hospital CEO talks COVID-19 booster shots, flu vaccines

Russell County Hospital is now providing Moderna COVID-19 booster shots.

Russell County Hospital CEO Patrick Branco explained more about the boosters.

“We have Moderna vaccines and we are doing boosters,” Branco said. “The Moderna boosters have been approved and what it is, the dosage you got the first time was 0.5 milliliters. The booster is half of that. My hope and best wish is that even folks who had minor side effects like a sore arm will have even less side effects with the booster, but there aren’t any guarantees. The booster will spike the level of antibodies and give you that extra protection.”

Branco said he has already received his booster vaccine.

“I got the booster the first part of September and my antibodies are now greater than 2500,” Branco said. “They were around 7700, so I feel pretty good about my antibody levels. I’m not going unmasked into a COVID-infected room or anything like that, but I feel good about it.”

Branco said getting a COVID vaccine booster “would be the wise thing to do.”

“Especially those of us who have age or weight issues, diabetes, or the other things that make it more important to keep yourself as safe as you can,” Branco said.

And Branco added that those who received the Pfizer vaccine could safely receive the Moderna vaccine and it would still be effective.

“These are fully mixable,” Branco said.

The recommendation is that people wait around six months following their second dose to get a booster, but Branco said there is still research being done on that.

Branco refuted the notion by some vaccine skeptics that the COVID vaccines are “experimental.”

“These vaccines were done through CDC and the FDA with an Emergency Use Authorization, or you’ll likely hear it called an EUA,” Branco said.

Branco noted that the three major vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) have either received full FDA approval or are expected to in the near future. They’re not 100 percent effective, Branco said, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t very effective at preventing hospitalization and/or death.

“These vaccines give you the best and strongest fighting chance to prevent it and if you do get a breakthrough, you’re most likely going to have a mild case and recover rather quickly” Branco said.

Branco also said that this is the beginning of flu season and encouraged people to get their flu vaccines. Experts deem flu season to be from October to May with flu activity peaking from December to February.


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Zac Oakes is the News and Sports Director for and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.