By SUSAN JONES
This week brought two big pieces of news from Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office.
The updated COVID-19 bivalent vaccine boosters, which include components of the original virus strain and the Omicron variant, are now available at the Pitt Vaccination and Health Connection Hub on Fifth Avenue.
John Williams, who has led the CMRO since its inception in July 20, has moved into an advisory role, and Joe Suyama, an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and chief of emergency medicine services at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, is now leading the office. Williams — chief of the medical school’s Division of Infectious Diseases, Henry L. Hillman endowed chair in pediatric immunology and professor of pediatrics — has been the face of Pitt’s fight against the pandemic. Suyama has been on the CMRO team since it began.
The Hub is offering the bivalent boosters from both Pfizer (for ages 12 and up) and Moderna (for ages 18 and up) at no cost.
Anyone seeking the new vaccine should be at least two months out from getting their initial shots or their most recent booster dose. If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19, you should wait at least two months after your symptoms go away to get the bivalent booster, based on current CDC recommendations.
The Hub also has first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses, including those for children ages three and up. First and second dose vaccines available include: Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax. Appointments are highly recommended, as The Hub may not be able to accept walk-ins at all times.
The CMRO anticipates a high demand for the updated booster and supply is still ramping up, so it may take a week or two to get an appointment.
Medical officials remind everyone that vaccines activate the immune system, which can cause some people to have soreness at the injection site, fatigue, body aches, headaches or slight fever after receiving the vaccine. These can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, rest and proper hydration. If you’ve previously experienced side effects, you can expect a similar, temporary reaction to the updated booster.
The Hub, on the Fifth Avenue side of Nordenberg Hall, is open noon-7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays; noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays.
Flu shot clinics
The CMRO also is encouraging people to get their flu shot, either at the same time as the booster or separately. This year’s shot is available now at The Hub. There also will be several flu shot clinics on Pitt’s campuses.
Large clinics will be held at William Pitt Union and Petersen Events Center. For these clinics, appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome.
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 14, William Pitt Union, Ballroom (at the HealthyU Fair)
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sept. 21 and 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 22, Petersen Events Center
10 a.m.-2 p.m., Oct. 4, William Pitt Union, Lower Lounge (at the Safety Fair)
There also will be clinics at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Research Pavilion, Bridgeside Point 2, Biomedical Science Tower and The Assembly. Find dates and times here.
Pitt’s regional campuses also will hold clinics:
Bradford: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 5 and 13, Frame-Westerberg Commons, Mukaiyama University Room
Greensburg: 9-10 a.m. Oct. 3, Village Hall, Rooms 101 and 118
Johnstown: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 21, Murtha Center
Those with UPMC Health Plan coverage can receive a flu shot at no cost, as well as receive Wellness Incentive credit for having it done. If you would prefer to obtain your flu shot clinic off-campus, UPMC Health Plan members may do so from a participating provider at no out-of-pocket cost.
Falk Pharmacy on the Oakland campus also will begin administering flu shots the week of Sept. 19. Walk-ins are welcome 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. You also can schedule a flu shot appointment with Falk Pharmacy online or by calling 412-623-6222 (option 0). It is recommended that you print and fill out the patient immunization intake form prior to your visit.
— Susan Jones
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