California expected to receive over 1 million updated booster doses authorized by the FDA
California’s Vaccinate ALL 58 campaign and EMS (Ethnic Media Services) recently hosted a briefing to discuss the FDA-authorized updated COVID-19 boosters that will be available in California for those 12 years and older in the coming days and weeks.
This briefing began with an overview of the authorization of the newly updated boosters, who are eligible for the boosters, California’s allocation, and when the public can expect the updated boosters to be available. Regina Brown Wilson, Executive Director, California Black Media Co-sponsored and moderated this briefing.
Dr. Gil Chávez, California Department of Public Health, Deputy Director, Center for Infectious Diseases gave an overview of the latest updates on vaccines for people 12 years old or older and who have completed a primary covid vaccine series.
He said that “the reason I recommended single vaccine booster which is important is because it gives reassurance about the safety of vaccines. The approval of the updated vaccine booster is great news since the vaccines have for the past two years saved millions of lives”.
Sharing his experience with the virus, he shared that thanks to the vaccines he had had a mild encounter with covid, especially for someone his age. It had saved members of his family who like him have only had mild cases of covid. The covid-19 vaccines like any other vaccines require a booster to ensure continued protection against severe disease or death. Dr. Chavez explained that it was like having a flu vaccine and booster every year. He informed the panel that the old boosters will no longer be available and have been replaced by the updated boosters for ages 12 years and older.
Who can get the booster?
To get the booster you must have completed the primary series of 2 doses. California has received the first 600,000 doses of the newly updated boosters. They are available in clinics and pharmacies and California is expecting an additional 400,000 which will continue to get into communities. The goal is to prevent a surge this winter. You can find updated booster distribution near you at www.vaccines.gov and appointments are also available at www.myturn.Ca.gov. He also noted that in California covid vaccines are free of charge to consumers and encouraged everyone to continue to wear well-fitted masks in situations indoors or in settings that they deemed necessary.
Why Is There Hesitancy?
Dr. Maggie Park, County Public Health Officer, San Joaquin County Public Health Services said that the rollout is timely as we approach the winter. In California, 78% of all people are now vaccinated with a primary series which is 29 million people who have received the first set of shots. This means two doses of Pfizer or two doses of Modena. 58.8% of eligible for the boosters have received a booster. So why are many people not taking the booster after taking the primary series? One reason she said, is that the barrier is a false notion that covid is over. She reiterated that the virus is not going away just because we wanted to. It is evolving and is becoming more highly transmissible and getting smarter about evading our immunity from infection or vaccination. So we have to find ways to stay ahead of it. Delta Park shed that all the research shows people still think vaccines are not safe. She said this is misinformation as there is more proof that the vaccines are safe. Sharing what some say, “shots don’t work or my friend is fully vaccinated and still got covid,’ the answer she said, is, “yes but is your friend still alive?”. Vaccinations don’t mean you wouldn’t get covid-19 but it will reduce the severity of all of your diseases and the chances of requiring hospitalization or death. And yes, the chances of getting covid are also reduced.
Covid fatigue is a thing as well. People are confused and want to live life with no covid or shots. The goal she said, is to come to a time when we don’t need shots but in the meantime, we need to be patient and protect ourselves. For those who think they don’t have the time or the means to get vaccinated she said to not wait to go to the hospital. It is free and there are efforts being made to make sure that vaccines get to the communities. Boosters are now available in the County and you can get on the website to get information about vaccination opportunities.
Dr. Oliver Brooks, Chief Medical Officer, of Watts Healthcare shared the concerns and importance of vaccinations just like the other doctors who had spoken before.
The concern for how fast it was developed still looms and is false as he explained that it was developed so quickly because there were processes already in place to facilitate the process. For 11 years the process has been in place for the SARS and MERS infections. Unvaccinated people will get severe illness and death in some cases. He said that confidence or lack of trust has driven the reason why some do not take the vaccine.
Another factor is convenience which has been diverted because now you can go to the pharmacy and get a vaccine immediately you don’t have to wait and don’t have to stand in long lines.
Vaccine complacency is a big factor since we do not feel as strongly that we need to get vaccinated. However many people do not realize that even though you may survive covid without a vaccine long covid is still a problem for the unvaccinated. Studies do show that people who are fully vaccinated are less likely to get long covid effects like headaches and brain fog. These are most common in the unvaccinated.
Lastly, covid-19 is now endemic and so it is here to stay and the only way to combat it is through vaccines and the vaccine he said is safe and effective
Dr. Eva Smith, Medical Director, K’ima:w Medical Center looks at it as a journey having lived through HIV and other challenging health times. When covid first hit the elders were excited to get vaccinated and protect themselves and their communities. Then in July and beyond things got more serious and there have been spikes. There was a lot of hesitancy complacency and convenience in her community. Sharing the experience in her local community she echoed similar sentiments as previous speakers. The new variant is making people sicker and so we should know about vulnerabilities. She encouraged testing to be sure and to protect oneself.