COVID Booster Shots Authorized
Last updated 10/4/2021 at 1:57pm
It is official. As of Sept. 24, the COVID-19 Pfizer booster shots were approved. These are not the same as third shot of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines approved last month for people with severe underlying health issues.
Who is eligible for the Pfizer booster shot?
- Adults 65 years old and over who’ve had Pfizer’s vaccine should get a booster shot after at least 6 months.
- Long-term care facility (nursing home) residents who’ve had Pfizer’s vaccine should get a booster shot after at least six months.
- Adults ages 50 – 64 with underlying medical conditions who’ve had Pfizer’s vaccine should get a booster shot after at least six months.
- However, the booster recommendations for younger adults are not as strong. The CDC suggests:
- Adults ages 18 – 49 with underlying medical conditions who’ve had Pfizer may get a booster after at least six months, based on their individual benefits and risks.
- Adults ages 18 – 49 who’ve had Pfizer and who are at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission “because of occupational or institutional setting” (e.g. healthcare workers, homeless, prisoners, and other frontline workers) may get a booster shot of Pfizer after at least six months, based on their individual benefits and risks.
If you fall to any of these categories and originally got Pfizer’s vaccine, you’re eligible. State officials announced that their notification and scheduling system, MyTurn, will allow Californians to see if they can get a booster, and, if so, where.
“The FDA and CDC approval of the Pfizer vaccine booster for certain groups of people is another step in our fight against COVID,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher said. “Once we receive final approval and guidance from the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup and the California Department of Public Health, our region will be well-prepared to provide Pfizer booster shots for those who are eligible.
“We expect this final approval in the coming days, and after that, eligible San Diegans should contact their local health care provider, pharmacy or our county-sponsored sites to receive the Pfizer booster,” Fletcher continued.
“We want to emphasize; the booster is only for those groups outlined in the state’s pending final approval and will only be available for those who initially received the Pfizer vaccine.”
Who is eligible for the third shot?
As Supervisor Fletcher sort of explained, the Pfizer booster, should not be confused with the FDA approval of a third dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine last month for those with severely weakened immune systems – including people receiving cancer treatment, those with advanced HIV infections, or organ transplant patients. For the complete list of those who qualify, go to Covid19.ca.gov.cornonavirus. Third doses are necessary for this group, since immunocompromised people don’t develop the same protection from two shots as others do. Since August, the county has welcomed those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised to get a third dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
“San Diegans who are immunocompromised should speak with their doctor to determine the best course of action,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “The best protection against COVID-19 is the vaccine and a third dose will help most people with compromised immune systems from developing severe illness from the virus.”
The Pfizer Booster Roll Out:
The state claims it is fortunate to have enough Pfizer available for the booster roll out and has already put procedures in place that include it’s COVID-19 Vaccine Action Plan unveiled September 23, 2021. The plan outlines how the booster will be administered, as well as procedures to administer vaccines to those under 12 once they become eligible.
As in the past, the booster shots are FREE.
Where to get the Pfizer Booster?
The state’s vaccine action plan for the Pfizer booster shot will mostly rely on pharmacies and primary care providers to administer the booster.
For the most part, the booster shots are available at the same locations where people got their first and second doses - including pharmacies such as CVS, Walmart and Walgreens.
Locally, the team of local fire departments – Operation Collaboration—deliver Pfizer shots in Borrego Springs. For the schedule go to https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/vaccines/COVID-19-VaxEvents/Vaccinations-Schedule.html to make an appointment for the next announced visit to get a booster shot.
In addition to county and state sources, the Borrego Springs COVID-19 Task Force has been reactivated through Supervisor Jim Desmond’s Revitalization Initiative and can provide both contacts and information on when shots are available in Borrego, either at the Borrego Springs Clinic or through the Operation Collaboration events at the library. Contact Bruce Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Facebook at Borrego Springs 92004, for dates and information. Currently, the webpage is not in operation at this time.
Borrego Health has not made a decision regarding the booster. However, Dr. Edgar Bulloch, CEO of Borrego Health, said if they decided to make it available, they would run an ad and notify the community. Borrego Health administers Moderna and J&J vaccines, and the third Moderna shot for those who qualify can be administered at the clinic. Be sure to call first to confirm availability and make an appointment. The state’s MyTurn platform will also send text messages alerting those who signed up and are eligible for the booster, and where they can find walk-in vaccination sites. Many large local health care providers like Scripts and Sharp said they are waiting for the final state approval, while Kaiser and U.C. San Diego has begun to notify its patients of the availability of the booster.
CVS, Walmart and Walgreen’s pharmacies have also put out word that boosters will be made available once state approval is granted. Word is, however, that many pharmacies began giving the boosters on Sept. 25. Some require a vaccine card as proof of two previous shots of Pfizer vaccine. People that have lost their cards can typically retrieve their record by contacting the California State Health Department website, or from the provider where they got vaccinated. A copy of your vaccination record may be retrieved at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov.
What about those who got the J&J Vaccination?
People who got the Johnson & Johnson shot will likely need second shots in the future, even though the company has said its jab offers “strong” protection against Delta and other variants of concern.
This week, J&J announced that a second dose of its vaccine led to 94% protection against moderate to severe COVID-19.
Mixing Vaccines is not recommended for the third shot, except in extreme cases of the seriously immunocompromised that have no other choice.
Some health experts who got the J&J shot, however, have “topped off” with a shot from Moderna or Pfizer, even though there is little research on the side effects or consequences.
All three shots remain protective of serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Medical experts are advising anyone in groups not eligible for the Pfizer booster shot not to worry as they wait for Moderna and J&J booster shots to receive approval.
Health experts stress that the most important task in bringing an end to the pandemic is not booster shots, but getting more Americans initially vaccinated. Only about 55% of the population in the United States is vaccinated. In the Borrego Springs zip code, 65% of residents age 12+ have had at least one shot of vaccine. That compares to 78% for all residents aged 12+ in San Diego County.
According to Bruce Kelley, Chairman of the BS COVID-19 Task Force, “Last May our residents’ vaccination rate was higher than the County’s overall rate when CALFIRE concluded its series of mass vaccination events in Borrego Springs. Our risk of spread may increase significantly with the return of seasonal residents and tourists. Borrego Springs would be a safer place to live and visit if another 20% to 25% of our residents got vaccinated.”
Contacts for vaccinations/information:
COVID Hotline: 1-833-422-4255
Local Hotline: 211