San Diego County

California Encourages Expanded Access to COVID-19 Booster Shots

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

California Public Health officials want to expand access to COVID-19 booster shots to prevent a potential case surge this winter.

“The CDC has very clear groups that should get a booster and groups that may [get a booster],” California Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

Dr. Ghaly’s comments came in an effort to clarify the state's position on who should receive a COVID-19 booster.

“We know that many Californians work in crowded public settings with the public and in that case because of your work-related risk, or even if you live with people who have underlying conditions or at higher risk themselves, or if you are a member of a community that has been ravished or hard hit by COVID,” Dr. Ghaly explained.

In earlier statements, it appeared that Ghaly suggested booster shots were available for anybody over the age of 18 who wants one.

The CDC’s recommendation prioritizes access to COVID-19 booster shots to those over 65 years old who are more than 6 months out from their original Pfizer or Moderna shot, those 18 years old or older that are two months out from a J&J shot, or those with underlying health conditions or occupational risk.

California wants to lower the age to those 18 years of age who meet the 6-month original vaccine series time for Pfizer and Moderna.

In California, state Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón sent a letter to local health officials and providers saying they should “allow patients to self-determine their risk of exposure."

“Do not turn a patient away who is requesting a booster” if they are age 18 and up and it has been six months since they had their second Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two months since their single Johnson & Johnson shot, he wrote.

“I think over time, we probably all will need a booster, but that's really going to be related to those underlying conditions like age, or weight, or diabetes, and all those sorts of things will play into the mix,” UC San Diego Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Davey Smith said.

Approximately 3 million Californians have received a COVID-19 booster shot.

According to the California Department of Public Health, as of Nov. 7, 24 million Californians are fully vaccinated.

Dr. D Smith believes COVID-19 booster shots are important for those at high-risk, but more of a priority needs to be put on getting those unvaccinated to get the shot.

“I think it's more important for people to get their first sets of COVID vaccines versus getting the boosters. I think the boosters will help, but what’s really going to make the difference for our winter is going to be those people who have yet to get vaccinated,” Dr. Smith said.

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