All California adults who received their original COVID-19 shots six months ago and think they would benefit from a booster should get one, said top California health official Dr. Mark Ghaly Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference in Los Angeles, Ghaly said the guidelines are in line with federal government eligibility rules for booster shots, which say anyone over the age of 18 who received their vaccines at least six months ago and has an underlying medical condition or working or living in a high-risk environment can get one.
“If you think you’ll benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you to go out and get it. The supply is available,” he said, adding that the administration is working with pharmacies and caregivers to “make sure no one turned away.”
In addition to describing who can get a booster, the federal government has also detailed which people should definitely get one. That includes people who received the Johnson & Johnson shot more than two months ago, anyone over the age of 65, adults living in long-term care facilities, and anyone over 50 with an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk.
Ghaly encouraged Californians to get both their COVID boosters and flu shots before gathering with others for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.
The Newsom administration is bracing for a winter wave of COVID-19 cases. State officials are already starting to see some COVID-19 numbers soar, which Ghaly and Gov. Gavin Newsom is foreshadowing a wave, just as other states and countries with colder climates are already seeing. Last year, California and the rest of the country suffered massive increases in COVID-19 infections as cold weather drove people inside, where the virus spreads more easily.
While vaccines are now widely available, Newsom says his administration is working to ensure California hospitals have enough staff to handle the influx of coronavirus patients, including bringing in medical personnel from out of state.
“We’re making sure we’re not at the back of the line,” Newsom told an Associated Press reporter after the press conference at a vaccine clinic. “If we start to see a big winter wave in other parts of the country, we don’t want to compete. We want to be prepared.”
Ghaly said flu patients could also overwhelm hospitals this winter, urging Californians to get those injections too.
Getting vaccinated against the coronavirus will help protect communities, as well as individuals, Ghaly said. Vaccinated people are five times less likely to get COVID and 20 times less likely to die from it, he said.
Get that extra protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you might be attending,” Ghaly said. “Now is the best time to consider taking that photo.”