L.A. County scaling up, preparing to administer more COVID vaccine boosters

Local news

Los Angeles County vaccination sites are scaling up operations and preparing to make COVID-19 vaccine boosters available to eligible residents, officials said.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee approved boosters for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and said that people are allowed to get a booster shot with a vaccine brand different from the one they initially got.

“Once the CDC director provides their final approval, providers across the county will be able to administer additional doses,” L.A. County Department of Public Health officials said.

Anyone who got Johnson & Johnson more than two months ago will be eligible for a booster shot.

Meanwhile, those who got Pfizer or Moderna can only get the booster if it’s been at least 6 months since their second dose and they are either: 65 and older, living in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, or work or live in high-risk settings.

That’s a sizable number of people who will be eligible for more doses in L.A. County.

While officials didn’t provide an estimate for how many additional people will become eligible, officials said that an estimated 1.7 million L.A. County residents got their second Pfizer vaccine dose and 1.5 million got Moderna at least six months ago. Another 470,000 received their Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

Many of those people will be eligible for boosters once the CDC director gives final approval, local health officials said.

The approval of more boosters will mean that providers across the state will need to ramp up operations.

Currently, the county is already administering boosters to those who received the second Pfizer vaccine dose at least 6 months ago and are 65 or older, living in long-term care facilities, or are 18 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions or high institutional or occupational risk.

Providers will be using their vaccine supply to give out more boosters as many in L.A. County remain unvaccinated and continue to account for most coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

So far, 71% of residents aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to county data.

And soon, sometime in in early November, federal regulators are expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 — that adds 900,000 children in L.A. County who will become eligible for the jab.

County health officials assured residents Thursday that providers are scaling up to be able to keep up and that the health department is still focused on administering first doses to unvaccinated residents while preparations are underway to begin giving out boosters.

“We do not anticipate scarcity, and expect there will be ample vaccine to meet demand,” health officials said in a news release.

L.A. County was expecting to get nearly 96,000 doses during the first week of November, with more arriving later in another two waves, according to the health department.

While appointments are not needed at many places, residents can still reserve a slot to get a booster dose on MyTurn.CA.gov or VaccinateLACounty.com.

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