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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new COVID-19 booster, which will protect against the virus’s circulating strain.

With hospitalizations and cases rising in Suffolk County and nationwide, single booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna should be available soon.

Local doctors recommended that people at the highest risk consider getting the shot.

That includes those with other medical issues, such as a 45-year-old smoker or a 65-year-old with diabetes.

Health care providers generally believe people who recently had COVID have at least three months of protection, although no definitive rule exists.

“If you had it in August, you probably don’t need to get a booster now,” said Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. “If you had it in January and you’re high risk, you should get it now.”

Nachman added that no study has indicated the age at which patients should get a booster shot.

People should consult their physicians to determine how their underlying health can affect the decision to get an updated vaccine.

“That gets back to the doctor-patient relationship,” Nachman said.

People who are 70 years old and planning a cruise that stops in several ports might want to get a shot at least two weeks before they travel because “the last thing you want happening is to be hospitalized in a foreign country,” Nachman said.

Nachman suggested that this vaccine, like the others that people have taken, won’t prevent illnesses but will keep people from shedding the virus and can reduce the symptoms and duration of an infection.

The FDA approval of the current vaccine is welcome news because it is a “good match” for the current strain, Nachman indicated.

It’s difficult to predict how much protection the current vaccine will provide for whatever strain might be circulating in February.

When a higher percentage of the population receives the vaccine, the likelihood of new variants declines, she added.

Stony Brook University Hospital received its first batch of the coronavirus vaccine, helping dozens of frontline workers at the highest risk of exposure.

Kisa King, resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the hospital, received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, administered by pharmacist Ian Pak.

King said that she was “honored” to be the first one injected.

“I am so excited and thankful to be a part of the solution,” she added. “Not only does this mean that I can continue delivering care to my patients, but it also means I am providing protection to my family, friends and community.”

On Dec. 15, more than 250 personnel at the hospital working in emergency rooms, critical care units and other high-risk hospital units received the vaccine.

“We’ve been through so much altogether as a community, as a nation, as a world and this is really the first steps towards normalcy,” Pak said. “I think it’s really important for everyone to have hope and be able to look towards the future so that everything we’ve done paid off — not to mention the countless lives that will hopefully be saved by this.”

This major milestone comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued the first emergency use authorization for a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older. The emergency use authorization allows the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. The vaccine has been found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 after two doses.

Pak said he wasn’t expecting that he’d be the first Stony Brook Hospital pharmacist to help out. “It’s just one tiny part of a humongous machine that everyone has contributed to throughout these months,” he said.