No eligible Californian should be denied a booster, officials say – Community News
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No eligible Californian should be denied a booster, officials say

No fully vaccinated adult should be denied a COVID-19 booster shot, the California Department of Public Health says.

The move comes as health authorities try to increase the number of Californians getting the booster shots, fearing that sluggish early demand would increase the chances of another wave of the winter coronavirus.

“Don’t turn down a patient who asks for a booster,” Dr. Tómas Aragón, the state health officer and director of public health, in a letter. Booster patients must be adults and at least two months must have passed since they received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine or six months since they received the second dose of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccination series.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been saying for weeks that any adult who has received one of the three vaccines should receive a booster shot if they live or work in environments where they are at increased risk of exposure to the coronavirus, such as hospitals. , schools, supermarkets, factories, farms, prisons, the postal service and public transport.

But as concerns grow over the potential threat of a fifth wave of COVID-19, California health officials — both at the state and local levels — are increasingly encouraging all residents to consider getting the booster.

There is growing evidence that the immunity afforded by shots received months ago weakens over time. Without a booster, vaccinated people will be at greater risk of breakthrough infections, which can lead to hospitalizations and death in the most vulnerable.

Officials suggest it would be tragic if those who qualify do not get a booster for the winter holidays. According to the CDC, only about 34% of fully vaccinated seniors in California age 65 and older have received a booster shot; of all fully vaccinated adults in the state, only 14% have received one.

“If you think you’ll benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you to go out there and get it,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. “It’s not too late to get it this week. Get that extra protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you may be attending. Certainly, going into the other winter holidays is important.”

Authorities are already noticing more coronavirus cases among the first batch of vaccine recipients last winter, Ghaly said.

Scientists and doctors say vaccinated seniors or those with weakened immune systems are most at risk of being hospitalized because of a breakthrough infection. And while younger, healthier people are more likely to survive a breakthrough infection without serious illness, they can become a source of viral transmission that can make older relatives and friends sick.

In the state letter, Aragón instructed vaccine suppliers to let patients determine for themselves whether they are at risk — which would qualify them for the booster, according to the CDC’s criteria.

He offered a myriad of statements that would fit the CDC’s eligibility criteria and cover essentially all California adults. People at increased risk may include those “who live in geographic areas that have been hit hard by COVID,” those who “live in high-transmission areas,” “who work with the public or live with someone who works with the public,” or “live or work with someone who is at high risk for serious consequences from COVID.”

It comes down to? Vaccine providers must take the stance that “no one will be turned down who wants a booster,” Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the COVID-19 vaccine officer for Santa Clara County, Northern California’s most populous county, told reporters this week.

“If you look at the CDC guidelines and you dig deeper into the different groups, you get the recognition that pretty much everyone is eligible,” says Dr. Sara Cody, director of public health and health official for Santa Clara County, said.

The California Department of Public Health went even further, offering more ideas about who might qualify under the CDC criteria. In a statement, the department said: “In general terms that anyone can understand, we urge Californians to get a booster if anyone in their home has a medical condition or if they work around other people. “

The list of qualifying medical conditions is extensive – including being overweight, pregnant, being a current or former smoker, or having high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, depression, anxiety, or an alcohol or drug use disorder.

California’s official recommendations for people who should get the vaccine, last updated Oct. 22, are already a little more lenient than what the CDC suggests. The state recommends the following people get booster shots:

• Adults who have received a Johnson & Johnson injection at least two months ago; and,
• Adults who received their second Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna injection at least six months ago and who have an underlying medical condition, live, work or live in a long-term care environment with a high risk of exposure to the coronavirus, or are at increased risk of COVID-19 due to social inequality.

Times staff writer Melissa Healy and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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