Millions of Californians are now eligible for Pfizer booster shots after the CDC signed off on a third dose last week for certain groups, but the booster rollout is a far cry from the hours-long lines many waited in when the vaccines were first released.
Some newly eligible told NBC 7 they’re taking advantage.
John, 65, said he was one of the first people in line for Pfizer’s vaccine, so when he found out he was eligible for a booster shot because of his age, he jumped at the opportunity.
“The decision is basically just one of health,” he said. “I want to get back to normal and getting a booster shot will allow things to just speed up and get back to as much normal as possible.”
He got his booster Tuesday at a small and largely empty vaccine site at the San Diego County Operations Center.
“It is very easy, very simple. They’ve set it up very well here in San Diego,” he said. “I registered online about an hour ago and then just simply drove here, walked in, got the shot, and sat down for 15 minutes and waited and walked out.”
As he proudly showed off his newly updated COVID-19 vaccination card, 77-year-old John Bayes told NBC 7 he had a newfound peace of mind after getting his Pfizer booster at a Serra Mesa CVS Pharmacy Tuesday.
“The results of testing on it was almost 100% preventative, so I really wanted it,” he said. “I’m very happy about it.”
He said he chose a pharmacy after calling Sharp Healthcare, where he got his first two Pfizer shots, with no luck.
“I was on hold for 45 minutes and couldn’t find information online, so I just said maybe CVS,” he said. “I walked in, showed them my card. It was very easy.”
Bayes is not alone.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters at a press briefing Tuesday that over 400,000 Americans have chosen to get their Pfizer boosters at U.S. pharmacies after the CDC signed off on a third dose last week for seniors and adults with underlying medical conditions or who live or work in high-risk settings.
“I take care of the patients who are the sickest of the sick with COVID infection,” said Dr. Tim Morris, a pulmonologist at UC San Diego Medical Center Hillcrest. “It's a relatively common thing, at least it used to be, for health care workers to be exposed to COVID and some of them got quite sick with COVID.”
Dr. Morris said that’s why he was relieved to find out healthcare workers are newly eligible for the Pfizer booster—and he jumped at the opportunity.
“As soon as the vaccine was approved for the third dose, UCSD opened it up and started offering it to its employees, so on the very first day I got my vaccination through UCSD,” he said.
The men told NBC 7 they’re hopeful the pandemic will end, but also realistic, adding more people should be too.
“I'll do whatever necessary to not get a COVID infection,” Dr. Morris said. “If my scientist colleagues can show that there's a benefit to the immunization and the benefit outweighs the risk I'll continue to be the first in line.”
“More boosters will be fine,” John said. “COVID is not going to just go away, variants will occur and so boosters, I think, are likely to happen and I will be in line each time to get another booster shot. Just get a shot and move on. Let's get back to life.”
Doctors’ offices, county-run sites and over 250 pharmacies across San Diego County are offering Pfizer boosters to those eligible groups. Most require booking an appointment and it's recommended to call sites before booking to make sure enough doses are in stock.
Those eligible are required to bring a vaccine card or a copy of it to confirm the recipient has gotten two doses of Pfizer’s shot more than six months ago.