Denver-area seniors and high-risk workers can start getting their COVID-19 boosters this week, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepares to vote on the shots potentially on Thursday. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer booster doses Wednesday for seniors 65 and older, adults with underlying health conditions, and workers in high-risk positions, such as health care workers, The Associated Press reported. A panel for the agency rejected a proposal Friday for everyone 16 and older to receive boosters citing a lack of safety data on extra doses and raising doubts about the value of mass boosters.

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The boosters still face review from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, which is expected to make more specific recommendations about who should get the shots Thursday.

The shots have been anticipated for months to help ward off waning immunity particularly among older adults who were the first to get immunized at the beginning of the year.

There is no clear timeline for when Moderna or Johnson & Johnson boosters may be approved or recommended, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said.

While the CDC has yet to reach an official decision, UCHealth is moving forward with distributing boosters to seniors and other high-risk people this week, health system spokeswoman Cary Vogrin said. The boosters are recommended for those who were vaccinated six months or more ago.

UCHealth is offering the booster vaccinations — either Pfizer or Moderna — via appointment because clinical trials and UCHealth’s data shows protection from vaccines may diminish over time and increase the risk for breakthrough infections, she said.

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“We know booster shots play an important role in the fight against COVID-19, and we’re still in the midst of a pandemic,” said Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth, in a statement.

Centura has decided to wait to administer boosters until the CDC issues its final guidance, spokeswoman Lindsay Radford said. Once the guidance is issued, she said Centura will be ready to give the shots.

"We anticipate we will see a spike in demand for vaccinations and we are prepared," she said.

Denver Health is also waiting on the Thursday vote before moving ahead with boosters but expects a decision Thursday afternoon, said Rachel Hirsch, a spokeswoman for the health system. 

Denver Health will contact patients who should get a booster including seniors 65 and older and employees, she said.  Once approved, Colorado is requiring a booster dose for healthcare workers.

Patients can sign up for booster shot appointments starting Friday either via their mychart Denver Health account, by calling the appointment center by up through the health system website, she said. 

SCL Health is also waiting for CDC guidance expected Thursday, spokesman Gregg Moss said. The health system will update its  website as quickly as possible with new patient booster information once the guidelines are issued. 

UCHealth is allowing residents 65 and older, health care workers who may have contact with COVID-19 patients, emergency medical responders, home health care workers, pharmacy workers, correctional workers, dental staff, funeral services and other health care workers to schedule booster shot appointments.

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Schedule a booster vaccine through UCHealth at uchealth.org/access-my-health-connection/.

Once CDC guidance is issued, booster vaccine shots can be scheduled at Centura.org/vaccine.

Three Denver-area community vaccination sites are also expected to help absorb the demand for booster shots, state officials said Thursday. 

• A drive-thru clinic is offered 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway, Aurora. 

• A drive-thru clinic is offered 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Southwest Plaza Mall, 8501 W. Bowles Ave. Littleton.

• A walk-up clinic is offered 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, 6000 Victory Way, Commerce City.

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.