State officials urge providers of COVID-19 vaccines to give accelerating shots to almost any adult who wishes such, in a message change to a relaxed interpretation of their own guidance that recommends shots only for those 65 and older, in poor health or living or alive. work at high risk.
“Don’t get rid of a patient who is asking for a boost,” who is at least 18 years old and last received the shot from Pfizer or Moderna 6 months ago or from Johnson & Johnson 2 months ago, director of California Public Health Dr. Tomás J. Aragón. said in a Nov. 9 note to local health jurisdictions and providers.
The report with the theme “Booster Messaging,” Aragón said, “explains the state’s expectations for administering COVID-19 vaccine enhancements and patient qualification,” and says providers must “allow patients to self-determine their risk of exposure.”
Santa Clara County health officials made the same recommendation Wednesday. But other local health jurisdictions – including health officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin – have indicated that they adhere to the qualifying guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state’s posted recommendations, which largely reflect them.
Pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS said Thursday they are also following CDC’s qualifying guidelines for accelerations.
Officially, the state recommends boosts for those who received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago and are 65 or older, or 18 or older and live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, have an increased risk due to social injustice, or working or living in high-risk environments.
California Secretary of Health and Human Services Mark Ghaly on Wednesday alluded to the new “Booster Messaging” during a news conference in Los Angeles, emphasizing that vaccine supply is available and the state is concerned about increasing hospitalizations in the holiday season.
“If you think you’re going to benefit from getting an accelerator, I encourage you to go out and get it,” Ghaly said Wednesday.
The state defines high-risk jobs to include health workers, firefighters, police officers, meeting care staff, teachers, school help workers, child care workers, food and agriculture workers, factory workers, correctional workers, public transportation workers, and postal workers. That guidance remained unchanged on the agency’s website Thursday.
It is not clear that anyone who wanted an accelerator is rejected.
But Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said Wednesday the leadership is “quite complicated” and likely discourages people from receiving accelerated shots. Only 20% of Santa Clara County residents who are 6 months after their last Pfizer or Modern shots or 2 months after their last Johnson & Johnson shots have received boosts, she said.
CDC data shows only about one in three Californians 65 or older has received a booster vaccine, similar to figures in Texas, Florida, and many other states. Among all adults 18 and older, the figures are declining to 14%.
Cody and state health officials cited concerns that the state may be heading for another increase in COVID-19 cases this winter, with numbers again tending upward.
President Biden in August announced plans for all vaccinated Americans to receive boosts starting in September after they are eight months after their initial doses.
The acceleration campaign has been controversial from the start, with many health professionals across the country arguing that it would divert the much more important goal of getting shots into the unvaccinated, and further cloud skepticism about the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Expert advisors from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recommended the shots only for older, chronically ill or otherwise at-risk people who originally had the Pfizer or Modern shots, positions the agencies largely adopted. Counselors agreed that recipients of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive a second shot after two months due to signs of declining immunity.
Pfizer this week asked the FDA to change its accelerator to include all adults, citing results from a new clinical trial that shows it is safe and effective. These results have yet to be reviewed or published.