Where to find COVID-19 Omicron boosters in California

Updated COVID-19 Omicron boosters are plentiful in Los Angeles County, and officials are urging people to get the latest supply before the fall and winter break.

More than half a million doses have already arrived in the region, and tens of thousands more are on the way, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. They are available at more than 1,500 locations nationwide, including those affiliated with the county health department, health clinics and retail pharmacies.

The priority at this time remains “ensuring easy access to these new boosters for all beneficiaries, and we remain particularly focused on ensuring good access to the new boosters in the hardest-hit communities,” Ferrer told Tuesday the County Board of Supervisors.

“We’re really grateful to have this refresher, which gives us even more protection from serious illnesses in LA County early this fall,” she added.

Almost 70% of LA County’s 10 million residents are already eligible for the new boosters, also known as bivalent because they not only target the original coronavirus strain, but also Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.4 should protect. who have dominated the nation this summer.

Robust uptake of the updated booster could help limit the severity of an autumn-winter surge, officials and experts say.

“This boost increases protection against serious illness and may provide additional protection against infection — hopefully we can enjoy the fall and holiday season with less disruption and illness,” Ferrer said.

However, it remains to be seen how great the demand will be. Nationwide, 72.1% of Californians have already completed their primary immunization series, but nearly 59% of those who qualify have previously had their booster booster, according to the state Department of Health.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided survey data suggesting that 72% of respondents said they were likely to receive an updated booster shot. Still, some health officials are wondering if COVID-weary residents will feel a sense of urgency to get yet another shot.

“Another thing we are trying to combat is COVID fatigue – so many people who are just tired of thinking about COVID want to move on. They’re tired of thinking about whether they need to take more shots. Perhaps they are confused as to whether they should do it. Maybe they got a few shots to start with, the two doses, maybe a booster shot, but they don’t want to continue because they seem to think all these shots just don’t end,” Dr. San Joaquin County public health official Maggie Park said during a recent briefing hosted by California’s Vaccinate All 58 campaign.

Park and other health officials, including at the federal level, have cautioned that flu shots have become an annual tradition for many, and the same could be true for COVID-19 vaccines, at least in the short term.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the absence of a dramatically different variant, as we look at the COVID-19 pandemic, we are likely moving down a path with a vaccination cadence similar to that of the annual influenza vaccine and updated annually for COVID-19 vaccinations , which are consistent with the current circulating strains for most of the population,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, last week. “However, some – particularly vulnerable groups – may still need more frequent vaccinations against COVID-19.”

The new booster offers “a chance to make a real dent in the legions of vaccinated people, particularly the elderly who are experiencing breakthrough infections,” wrote Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco, in an op-ed published in The Times.

Unvaccinated people still account for the majority of patients who have died from COVID-19, but vaccinated people can also die from the disease, especially if they are at higher risk and have not received booster shots. COVID-19 could cause 100,000 deaths a year nationwide — multiples of the deaths seen in the typical flu season and potentially more than the annual deaths from diabetes, Chin-Hong wrote.

“Vaccinated patients who died were disproportionately those over 75 who did not receive a booster,” he wrote. “In speaking with families of deceased vaccinated individuals, I have often learned that after the vaccine was approved in December 2020, the patient had rushed his first two shots but had not received a booster.”

Someone is entitled to an updated booster shot if he or she has completed their primary vaccination course and is at least 12 years old and two months after their last vaccination. It doesn’t matter how many previous booster shots you’ve had.

Persons 12 years and older can no longer receive the previous booster formulation.

The COVID-19 vaccine, including updated booster shots, “remains available to all people at no cost, regardless of insurance,” California’s Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement to The Times this week.

Some clinics may have stopped providing COVID-19 vaccines to those without insurance because Congress failed to authorize more money to reimburse vaccine administrators for injections. Still, “no one can be charged with receiving a COVID-19 vaccine,” the state health agency said.

Here is an overview of how to get vaccinated:

retail stores such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart and Ralphs offer the new booster, the companies say on their websites. Check with specific stores for availability.

Los Angeles County: A list of clinics can be found at vaccinatelacounty.com or by phone at (833) 540-0473, seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. People who are unable to leave their homes can call the county and ask officials to send a vaccinator to administer the vaccine at home. The Long Beach Board of Health operates its own refresher clinics; For information, call (562) 570-4636.

County of San Diego: Outpatient booster immunization clinics operated by the county health department are available throughout the county.

Orange County: Appointments for booster vaccinations can be made at othena.com. (714) 834-2000.

Riverside County: Bivalent refresher clinics are now in operation. (951) 358-5000.

County of San Bernardino: The updated booster is now available on a collection of websites. (909) 387-3911.

Ventura County: The updated booster shot is available at the county public health clinics in Oxnard and a selection of mobile clinics.

Because it takes at least two weeks for the booster to take full effect, officials are urging people to get the vaccine ahead of the fall and winter holiday season, when an increase in coronavirus cases is possible. During the pandemic’s first fall and winter season — in 2020 — cases of coronavirus in LA County began rising in November and accelerated sharply in December; Last year, cases increased dramatically in December.

The rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations has declined so much that on September 1, LA County entered the “low” COVID-19 community level, an indicator of a relatively low burden on the healthcare system.

The number of coronavirus cases in the district is currently declining. At the height of the summer omicron wave, LA County was averaging nearly 6,900 cases per day. But in the seven days that ended Wednesday, LA County recorded an average of about 1,700 coronavirus cases per day, down 12% from the previous week.

Per capita, that is 118 cases per week per 100,000 inhabitants. A fall rate of 100 or more is considered high; between 50 and 99 is considered significant; and 10 to 49 is moderate.

According to Ferrer, it’s possible LA County could move from the “high” COVID-19 transmission level — which only measures case rates and not hospitalization rates — to the “substantial” level later this week. She added that she is in discussion with the CDC about when it might be appropriate to end local mask requirements on indoor public transit, including airport terminals, buses, subways, train stations, and ride-hailing services.

On its website, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in such situations. However, that guidance hasn’t been updated since April, when a federal judge nullified the agency’s previous order requiring masks on public transit.

Only a handful of transport companies or local governments still require passengers to wear masks. These include BART, which operates a 131-mile commuter rail system with 50 stations in the San Francisco Bay Area; and AC Transit, which operates buses in East Bay communities such as Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, and Berkeley.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul ended her state’s requirement to wear masks on public transit last week. The New York City subway and bus system has decided to make mask-wearing optional, and free masks will continue to be available at subway stations and on S-Bahn trains.

Should LA County report fewer than 100 coronavirus cases per week per 100,000 residents, Ferrer said her agency is prepared to downgrade its recommendation for universal masking in indoor public spaces.

Instead, the county would say masking indoors is “an individual preference” unless the state requires face coverings to be worn in places like health care facilities, nursing homes, homeless shelters and refrigeration centers, or when it’s required by a specific business or venue.

“With lower levels of transmission, the risk of becoming infected or infecting others is reduced,” Ferrer said.

LA County’s potential masking recommendation downgrade is consistent with CDC guidance. However, the California Department of Health and Human Services still strongly recommends universal masking in indoor public spaces.

Ferrer signaled it’s likely LA County will maintain its requirement for people to dress up if they’re a “close contact” with someone with a coronavirus infection, defined as someone who spends at least 15 minutes in the same interior space with a infected person has shared a 24-hour period.

LA County requires such individuals to wear a mask around others for 10 days after exposure.

The county regulation is similar to that of the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA. The state agency requires workers exposed to the coronavirus to wear a mask for 10 days after workplace exposure.

LA County also requires people who have been infected with the coronavirus but who are no longer required to isolate at home to remain masked between the sixth and 10th day after they develop symptoms or their first positive test.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-14/where-to-find-covid-omicron-boosters-in-california Where to find COVID-19 Omicron boosters in California

Alley Einstein

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