Santa Clara County is ready to administer COVID-19 booster shots of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody and Vaccine Officer Dr. Marty Fenstersheib spoke at a news conference Friday where they said booster shots are now available for residents who qualify. All residents 65 and older are eligible if they were vaccinated two months ago with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or six months ago with the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna.
“We now understand that the protection from the initial vaccine series may decrease over time, and a booster shot is highly effective in preventing serious hospitalization and death,” Cody said. “We especially urge everyone 65 and older to receive the booster shot, as well as anyone who lives in a long term care facility, and anyone 50 years and older who has an underlying medical condition.”
Boosters are recommended for:
- Everyone 18 and older who received their Johnson & Johnson shot two or more months ago.
- Most people who received their Pfizer or Moderna shot six or more months ago.
- Those who are 65+, 18 and older living in a long term care facility, or are 50+ with an underlying medical condition.
- Those who are 18 and older and have an underlying medical condition, or work in a setting that may increase their risk of exposure.
Cody added the eligibility of those with underlying medical conditions has expanded to include those who are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes or depression.
According to health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that all boosters are safe and effective, and can be used no matter the brand of vaccine people initially received.
“People have many questions about boosters,” Cody said. “I think that’s in part because there are three different vaccines, two different time periods and many eligibility groups. Most people who received a vaccine are now eligible for a booster.”
Some booster shots have already been available to eligible residents. As of Friday, 74,290 Santa Clara County residents have received a booster shot. About 85% of residents age 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That drops to about 73% when factoring in all age groups.
Fenstersheib said so far, only 40% of eligible county residents 65 and older have gotten the booster shot. Approximately 180,000 people have not been vaccinated countywide, but are at high risk from the Delta variant and can pass it to others.
“We have plenty of vaccines that are available,” he said. “Moderna is half-dose…which expands the amount we have for boosters.”
He added that the half-dose is just as effective as a full COVID shot, but has fewer side effects.
The availability of booster shots comes amid surging positive infections and hospitalizations driven by the Delta variant across the country. Few breakthrough cases have occurred locally, but there is data that shows the vaccines’ effectiveness declines over time. The approved COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths, health experts say.
“It is easy to get a boost of a COVID vaccine here in Santa Clara County,” Cody said, recommending residents don’t wait to get inoculated.
Eligible individuals who live, work or go to school in Santa Clara County can sign up for boosters by visiting www.sccfreevax.org. Boosters are available at five large-scale vaccination locations and multiple smaller sites, with many locations accepting drop-in patients. Additionally, many doctor offices and pharmacies provide COVID-19 boosters. Vaccinations through the county are no-cost to the public, insurance is not required and there are no immigration requirements.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]