NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Anyone over 18 in New York City can now get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. The guidelines haven’t changed, just the interpretation of them.

So far, more than 630,000 New Yorkers have gotten a booster and the city wants more, especially as the colder months force people indoors, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported Monday.

READ MORE: With COVID Numbers Climbing Again Across Tri-State Area, Officials Again Push For People To Get Vaccinated

“I had planned to come in today already, but then I was like I really gotta make it before everyone else,” Harlem resident Claudia Montague said.

Fully vaccinated since March, a double-masked Montague was happy to be getting her additional Moderna dose. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, the health of her family is on her mind.

“I’m just traveling for the holidays, so I thought it was a good time,” Montague said.

The Harlem woman’s trip to an urgent care came just hours after city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi made the announcement, and as the city sees an uptick in COVID cases. He issued an advisory to ensure there are no access barriers, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported.

“Today, I’m issuing a Commissioner’s Advisory to all health care providers,” Chokshi said. “Clinicians should allow adult patients to determine their own risk of exposure based on their individual circumstances.”

So, if you want a booster shot and you’re over the age of 18, you can get one in New York City.

“Living in New York City, in this very dense metropolis where we live, to my mind, puts people at higher risk of COVID, which is one of the criteria for the vaccination, for qualifying for a booster if you’re over 18,” said Dr. Mitch Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said, in part, “I am strongly encouraging all New Yorkers who live or work in a high-risk setting to get the booster. I received the booster, and believe no one who feels they are at risk should be turned away from getting a COVID-19 booster shot.”

Current CDC guidance states anyone 65 and older who got a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago is eligible for a booster. Anyone 18 or older with underlying health conditions or in long-term care settings or who work or live in high-risk settings qualify for a booster at least six months after getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Those 18 and older who got the Johnson & Johnson shot two or more months ago also qualify.

READ MORE: As COVID Cases Climb In Tri-State Area, Pfizer Says Its Vaccine Booster Appears To Protect Against Omicron Variant

“Our guidance is consistent with the FDA authorization as well as the CDC guidance that has been laid out,” Chokshi said.

COVID VACCINE

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said as long as residents meet the time requirements, they shouldn’t over analyze the federal guidance.

“Science Magazine just recently released data showing declining immunity over time, showing the need to get boosted,” Murphy said. “If you’re in doubt and you meet the waiting period, just get a booster. Choose the side of greater protection.”

“It has been about six to eight months since the majority of people have gotten vaccinated, so the antibody concentrations may be on the downslope,” added Dr. Niket Sonpal of Touro College of Medicine.

Sonpal said boosters are the next big step in beating the pandemic, especially as we head into the colder months filled with indoor holiday celebrations and crowded shopping malls.

“What we have to remember is that the antibodies aren’t just black and white where you have them one day and not the next. They drift down over time,” Sonpal said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said while we’re in better shape than even a year ago, the country is still seeing about 70,000 new COVID cases per day, adding 60 million Americans have yet to get their first shot, Layton reported.

“How quickly we get to the end depends on us, how well we vaccinate, how well we get boosted, and how well we do the kinds of things to protect ourselves,” Fauci said.

CBS2 is taking an in-depth look at the COVID vaccine, answering questions and separating fact from fiction. Join us Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. for our special report “COVID 19: Our Children, Our Future.”

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CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

Alice Gainer