US citizen visiting Kentucky family can’t get COVID booster shot

Mark Jasper lives in the Netherlands and was vaccinated with AstraZeneca. He's struggling to find anyone that will allow him to get a booster shot.
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 5:52 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2021 at 5:53 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - COVID booster shots are readily available at local pharmacies, but millions of Americans could run into a problem trying to get them.

The U.S. State Department estimates nine million Americans live abroad.

One of them, Mark Jasper, has been back visiting his Kentucky family since early November.

He’s fully vaccinated and wants to get a booster shot, but he said so far, no one will give him one, because the vaccine he was given was the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Netherlands.

That’s somewhat surprising to University of Louisville’s Paul McKinney, who said this is a type of issue the university has seen before.

“At the university, it’s kind of business as usual, we deal with this all the time, there are individuals here that come to study from all around the world and there is a requirement that a WHO-approved vaccine they have to have received,” McKinney said.

Mark Jasper was given the AstraZeneca vaccine. CDC guidance says he can get a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine.

But because AstraZeneca has not been approved by the FDA, all the systems Jasper has been trying to sign up for tend to kick him out.

On the Kroger website, for example, once he enters “other” for the previous vaccine type, the system pops up an error saying he can’t register.

“The same kind of thing happens when I call a pharmacy and get down to a pharmacist to tell them my story that I’ve had two shots of AstraZeneca because I live in the Netherlands, they say they’re not authorized to give me a booster,” Jasper said.

He’s flustered. The Dutch government said it will provide Pfizer and Moderna boosters to its residents regardless of the vaccine they got prior.

There are additional Russian and Chinese vaccines out in the world as well.

McKinney said it will take time for data collection to have the U.S. approved boosters for those shots as well.

“As long as it’s both safe and effective, the CDC would accept those sorts of details as being sufficient proof of the vaccine being worthwhile,” McKinney said.

The University of Louisville has an international travel clinic. Most health departments refer patients with these kinds of unique circumstances to them, but they’re closed right now, so Jasper is searching for someone else to let him get a booster.

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