SHILLINGTON, Pa. - COVID-19 vaccine providers in Berks County say the demand for booster doses is way up.

The increase comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded who's eligible for a booster and ahead of the holidays when families plan to come together.

The Medicine Shoppe is seeing a large number of people heading in to get their booster shots — one day, they nearly reached 200 doses. 

"Once Pfizer was approved for non-immunocompromised, that's when we started getting demand," said Dipak Patel, pharmacy manager for The Medicine Shoppe in Shillington.

Patel says the demand comes in waves, particularly on Fridays and Mondays, with one recent day when they administered 180 booster shots in just a few hours.

"Since the 18 and up has been approved the last couple weeks, we've been going crazy," said Patel, who says his store is fully stocked and he's not aware of any shortages in the area. "That's all we do, is vaccines here."

With the CDC's new guidance, all adults can now receive booster shots.

"So, for Pfizer and Moderna it's six months after your second shot or your last shot, and then for J&J, it's two months. After two months," said Patel.

The size of the shop has proved a bit challenging in trying to get as many people in as possible to get their booster shots, he said. "That's why we try to do clinics at the intermediate school, so we have one set up for booster this weekend."

A clinic is planned for this Saturday at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School. Sign-ups are available on the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy's website.

At Tower Health, more people are also rolling up their sleeves to get the additional layer of protection. 

"By getting the booster, you get to higher antibody levels that protect you from getting severe disease," said Dr. Debra Powell, Reading Hospital's chief of infectious diseases. 

Powell said it takes two weeks for the booster to take full effect. 

"It takes that amount of time for your body to start producing antibodies," she explained. 

Powell says possible side effects are similar to those of the first two doses, including a headache, fever and pain at the injection site. 

"These are short-term side effects," she added. "They go away within 24 hours." 

Despite the demand, Powell said shots are widely available. 

"Get your vaccine boosters now to protect you going into the holiday season," she said.

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