When can I get my Omicron booster in California?

After Labor Day, California health officials expect to quickly begin the next major phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign: the distribution and administration of newly approved Omicron-specific booster shots.

Though there are still a few hurdles to clear before officials begin distributing the cans, eligible residents are expected to be able to roll up their sleeves by mid-September.

“As immunizations remain our best defense against serious diseases, we are pleased to report that the updated Omicron vaccine boosters should be available very soon,” Los Angeles County director of public health Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday .

The LA County Department of Public Health has already pre-ordered its full initial allocation of approximately 170,000 doses of the Omicron booster.

The US Food and Drug Administration Wednesday approved the updated booster vaccine – a bivalent vaccine designed to target both the original coronavirus strain and the highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants.

“The COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots, continue to save countless lives and prevent the most serious consequences of COVID-19, hospitalizations and deaths,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf in a statement. “As we head into the fall and begin to spend more time indoors, we are recommending that everyone who is eligible receive a booster dose of a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to provide better protection against currently circulating variants. “

The matter now goes to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will go through its own process to make recommendations on who should be eligible for the shots. The Agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet Thursday morning and vote by afternoon on recommendations that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky are to be presented.

Pfizer has asked authorities to approve its Omicron booster for people ages 12 and older, while Moderna has asked for adult approval.

Walensky’s decision would be the final step at the federal level that would allow the gunfire to go to the guns.

In California and several other western states, there is usually an extra step. The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup — a coalition of public health experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — also independently reviews and signs off on new vaccine or booster offerings, usually within a day or two of federal action.

Assuming shooting gets the green light this week, LA County expects to receive its first shipment of Omicron boosters between September 6 and September 9, Ferrer said. More than 300 different healthcare providers are preparing to give the booster shot in mid-September, she added.

LA County plans to offer the booster shot at its seven community immunization sites, five public health centers and hundreds of local immunization clinics. People can search for vaccination centers at vaccinatelacounty.com.

While the original vaccines are still relatively good at keeping people out of intensive care and dying, their effectiveness in preventing infection has diminished over time due to the development of the Omicron strain.

BA.5 in particular has proven not only highly transmissible, but also capable of re-infecting those who have recently recovered from a bout with a previous strain of coronavirus. The CDC estimates that a specific subvariant accounted for 89% of coronavirus cases nationwide in the week-ending Saturday.

The updated boosters, which have been awaited for months, are specifically designed to combat BA.5 as well as the less common Omicron subvariant BA.4.

At a recent forum, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said the new booster shot represents a potentially significant improvement on the vaccine, “in terms of its ability to prevent infection, prevent transmission and certainly prevent serious illness and death. ”

In general, many officials and experts recommend getting a booster as soon as you’re eligible — especially if you’re at higher risk of serious health consequences from COVID-19.

But others may choose to wait a bit, until October or November, as the booster’s effectiveness will likely diminish over time, as has been the case with other vaccine doses.

Peak efficacy is likely to be reached in the four or five months following injection, with peak efficacy occurring one month post-injection, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco.

In the first fall and winter wave of the pandemic, California’s coronavirus cases began increasing in November and accelerated sharply in December. In last year’s fall-winter wave, cases began to rise in December.

For now, California appears to be heading for a relative lull in coronavirus transmission, which has also been seen in recent late summers and early fall.

The number of corona cases continues to fall. For the seven-day period that ended Tuesday, the state reported an average of 8,119 new coronavirus cases per day, down 32% from two weeks ago, according to data from The Times.

During the same period, LA County reported about 2,700 coronavirus cases per day, down 16% from the previous week and down 60% from the summer peak of nearly 6,900 cases per day.

The last time the case rate was this low was in mid-May.

Observed coronavirus concentrations in LA County sewage are either flat or declining. However, the region has recently seen a very small increase in the number of new outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities and K-12 classrooms, the latter likely reflecting more schools resuming classes.

The number of companies reporting clusters of coronavirus cases has also increased slightly.

Since Omicron’s initial fall and winter strike faded, California and the nation as a whole have been swept up by a parade of increasingly contagious subvarieties battling each other for dominance. Late spring saw the emergence of BA.2 and BA.2.12.1, which flowed straight into the summer season of BA.4 and BA.5 without a break.

For now, however, there doesn’t seem to be any sign that another shoe will drop. Two newer sub-variants, BA.4.6 and BA.2.75, have yet to outperform BA.5 to any significant degree.

“There are no new subvariants or sublines that are likely to overtake BA.5 given the current pattern,” Ferrer said. “This is an encouraging sign, especially given our declining cases, and it may allow for a further decline in transmission.”

Because all subvariants currently circulating have the ability to reinfect people who previously had COVID-19, Ferrer said she still recommends masking in indoor public places, getting tested if you’re sick, and isolating at home if having COVID-19, and gathering outdoors instead of opening windows indoors and turning on air filters when indoors, and performing rapid tests before indoor gatherings and before and after travel.

“I feel a lot better where we are today than where we have been for quite some time,” Ferrer said. “Especially this year… we just switched from one variant to another very quickly without really taking a break. I think we’re going to take a break now.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-31/when-can-i-get-my-omicron-booster-in-california When can I get my Omicron booster in California?

Alley Einstein

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