One week later, few have received another booster for COVID-19 in San Diego County
One week later, few have received another booster for COVID-19 in San Diego County

One week later, few have received another booster for COVID-19 in San Diego County

About 14,000 residents of San Diego County have received other booster shots for COVID-19 since the federal government approved them for those 50 years and older early last week.

Although another 5,000 – most with compromised immune systems or under doctors’ orders – received early fourth shots before broad approval on March 29, early figures show the region has not experienced much haste to line up for another coronavirus shot at despite government records that do. then will strengthen diminishing immunity.

Federal second-booster approval is for anyone 50 years and older who is at least four months after their first booster shot. That’s nearly 471,000 people across the region, the county said in an email Thursday. After the first week of approval, when counting those who received additional shots early for medical reasons, only 4 percent of those eligible have so far received another booster.

And at the moment, there seems to be little concern that a tidal wave of demand is about to arrive.

Local health providers, nonprofit groups and the county health department all report a general decline in demand for testing and vaccination, as the pandemic produces fewer cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Of course, it’s still early. It is only a week ago that the second booster became available to so many, and healthcare providers are still in the process of putting together their outreach plans for patients who qualify for double boost.

Chris Van Gorder, CEO of Scripps Health, said Thursday that there are plans to offer vaccinations and boosters in some of the provider’s Health Express clinics.

“Right now I would like to speculate, but I think the demand will be good from the (age) 60 and older and at best modest of the 50 to 60,” Van Gorder said in an email. “But if we start to see a BA.2 increase or see another variant, demand will increase significantly.”

BA.2, the sub-variant closely related to the Omicron variant, seems to be steadily outperforming its predecessor. Helix, a San Diego-based national testing company, recently found that 75 percent of coronavirus samples that underwent genetic sequencing in the week of March 27 were BA.2 compared to 71 percent in the week of March 20 and 51 percent in the week of March 13th.

The county announced Wednesday that it is changing its local testing and vaccination strategy in response to lower demand.

Dr. Denise Foster, the county’s senior nurse, said that while county and state-run test sites handled about 55,000 tests a week this winter with Omicron proliferation, the latest averages are about 6,000. Vaccination has seen a similar decline, especially considering that 90 percent of residents are vaccinated by their health care provider or at a pharmacy.

“In some places, demand has almost completely dried up, while others have slowed down but still have some activity,” Foster said.

She said the idea is to keep resources in areas where vaccination rates are known to be lower or where there are fewer available health resources, especially for those without health insurance.

As of Wednesday, the total number of government-sponsored test sites has shrunk from 25 to 18, with a further two closing on April 30th. The county also plans to close full-time vaccination operations at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa and at 6 p.m. County Educational Cultural Complex in southeast San Diego on April 30 and April 16.

However, the net effect will be an increase in the number of county-run vaccination sites. While a handful will be closed, coronavirus vaccines will be added to the functions of the county’s six main public health clinics, which served as the main sites for vaccinations of all types before the pandemic arrived in 2020. The plan is also to increase the number of mobile vaccination clinics. even reusing a book mobile to move from three to four mobile clinics a week to seven or eight.

“We have learned that being in the right place at the right time with trusted messengers and nurses, the mobile model works really well, and we want to continue to use it,” Foster said.

A complete list of county and state-run sites offering vaccination and testing is available at coronavirus-sd.com or by calling 211.


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