With the Center of Disease Control’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot Sept. 24, the County held a press conference three days later on the status of available Pfizer boosters in the county. Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher said that the San Diego region is doing incredibly well with almost 88% of eligible people vaccinated, with nearly 80% fully vaccinated.
“The recent CDC, Food and Drug Administration, and Western Scientific Review Safety Council approval for the Pfizer booster for certain groups is another step forward in our fight against COVID-19,” Fletcher said. “We encourage everyone eligible to get their booster. We want to reiterate for the 12% of eligible San Diegans who have not yet received the vaccine, we still encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”
Vice Chair Nora Vargas said that the South County region “should be proud” as it is fully vaccinated at 88.8%.
Fletcher said the county is doing well, with case rates down since the recent spikes and the overall vaccination rate in the county.
“These are incredibly high numbers. Much higher than the state of California, higher than other counties, and exponentially higher than many other states,” he said.
Right now, the Pfizer vaccine booster shot is only available if you received the Pfizer vaccine.
If you originally received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, you are not eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. If you have previously received your Pfizer vaccine and it has been six months since you completed the second shot, then you are eligible.
The CDC recommended the following groups should get a booster shot:
• People aged 65 and older.
• Residents 18-years-old and older who are in long term care settings
• People aged 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, and those with a weakened immune system.
The CDC recommends the following groups may receive a Pfizer booster vaccine:
•People aged 18 to 49 with underlying health conditions,
• People age 18 to 64 where there is increased exposure to COVID due to occupation or institutional setting, including first responders, educational staff, food and agricultural workers, correction workers, transit workers, educational workers, and others.
A full list of eligibility requirements can be found on the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov.
Fletcher said the county has “returned to a state of normal” in terms of where to go for vaccinations and booster vaccines.
“Think about pre-COVID and where you would have gone to get your flu shot,” he said. “For those eligible your first stop would be your doctor or healthcare provider. There are 254 pharmacies in San Diego County, and you can get your shots there. If neither of those work for you the county has a number of hosted vaccination sites available. Currently, the county sites are only at about 14% capacity, so there is plenty of capacity to serve more.”
There is a list of venues on the county’s website: coronavirus-sd.com.
Fletcher said during the “duration of this COVID experience,” protecting the integrity of the healthcare system and saving lives has been top priority.
“For San Diego County, this has resulted in fewer deaths, higher vaccination rates, and a consistent ability to maintain the integrity of our healthcare system,” he said. “While you may see other states and regions that are in crisis, San Diego County is not in that situation because of the regional effort, because of San Diegans’ willingness to come together as a community, not only getting vaccinated, but being safe, being careful, our approach has been steady, strong, and effective. And this new authorization for the booster shot is another step of continuation of that effort…The vaccine is now widely available, and we have plenty of supply.”
Fletcher said the county’s work with skilled nursing facilities, many of them are now able to administer vaccines on their own, and those that cannot, the county is working to make sure there is someone that can.
The CDC reports it expects to approve the Moderna vaccine for booster shots after the FDA finishes its independent evaluation and expects that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will likely be needed and approved as well.