On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control authorized a second booster of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for people ages 50 and older as well as immunocompromised people.
Just a day later, the CDC issued clinical guidelines for the shots, officially allowing patients in the relevant demographics to make appointments.
The Western States Scientific Safety Review and the California Department of Public Health also gave the jab the green light, allowing Santa Cruz County health services to begin administering shots as well.
Local drugstores and pharmacies have started that process, with appointments at Rite-Aid and CVS already available. Horsnyder Pharmacy and its sister store, Westside Pharmacy, are offering a second Moderna booster. People must bring their insurance card, ID card and COVID-19 vaccination card. Rollout at Walgreens is set to begin on Friday.
Meanwhile, the area’s private health care providers are still getting their plans in place.
In a statement, Kaiser Permanente advised patients to check the company’s website for availability and appointments in their area, as that may vary from region to region. Sutter Health’s website says that appointment scheduling will begin soon.
Santa Cruz County Health spokesperson Corinne Hyland says this round of vaccinations will look a bit different than the ones prior — particularly for those using county-sponsored clinics.
Over the past month, the Watsonville vaccine clinic, Felton “Vax the Valley” clinic, and the Ben Lomond vaccine clinic all closed. While Hyland said that county public health does not have any clinics on the calendar as of now, more efforts are on the horizon.
“Instead of having fixed locations, we’re looking to be a bit more strategic and find pockets where we need to go to the community,” she said. “The clinics that were stationed at Pinto Lake City Park and La Princesa [Market] in Watsonville saw good success in driving up vaccine rates, so we’re looking to do something similar.”
Here’s what we know about the shots, per the updated CDC guidelines:
- People 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may choose to receive a second booster dose at least four months after their first booster dose.
- Adults 50 and older who are not moderately or severely immunocompromised may choose to receive a second booster dose at least four months after their first booster dose.
- People 18-49 who are not moderately or severely immunocompromised and who received Johnson & Johnson as both their primary series dose and booster dose may receive a second booster dose at least four months after their first J&J booster dose.
These populations are advised to consider a second booster as “stealth Omicron” becomes increasingly prevalent in the United States and abroad. Though the variant does not appear to cause more severe illness at this point, the demographics in question are the likeliest to experience serious illness regardless of the variant’s relative severity.