By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – Without much guidance, a Denver pharmacist has made the decision to start giving out COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, following the lead of larger organizations in the state.

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“There’s not local guidance, there’s not national guidance. There’s, I mean this, the CDC has literally only given clearance for immunocompromised folks,” said Dr. Krisitn Holmes, the owner of the Capitol Heights Pharmacy.

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Dr. Holmes says she has been getting calls and questions since the beginning of the summer about booster shots. She’d denied them until a few days ago when she came to the decision to follow the lead of UCHealth.

“If UCHealth, as like a huge organization, has looked at the data and decided that they’re going to do that for their staff and the elderly population, then why can’t we,” she said. “You see a leader in the region doing it and we see doses, getting thrown out. And it just makes sense.”

Only immunocompromised, first responders, healthcare workers and people over 70 are elegible at Capitol Heights Pharmacy. Appointments are encouraged.

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While the tiny operation will now follow the lead of one of the biggest healthcare systems in the state, Dr. Holmes says another big factor driving her decision is the amount of vaccine she sees go to waste each day.

“A vial of Moderna has 11 doses in it. I honestly can’t get like 11 new arms in here to get Moderna. So, I’m opening it for one, two people, sometimes, and then throwing the rest out. Why would I not give that as a booster,” she said.

The move has been met with skepticism by some, over the ethical use of vaccines while so much of the rest of the global population needs a first dose. But, Holmes says she has the vaccine supply and would rather see it used.

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“Boosters are effective and that immunity does wane, so I don’t see it going in a direction where we’re not gonna give boosters ever,” Dr. Holmes said. “I’m a little bit nervous about opening it up because we’re already pretty busy, especially flu shots are starting now. If they can go on and make an appointment on our website, it makes it a lot easier for us to handle the workflow.”

Jeff Todd