Cases: While there are differences between the vaccines, all are effective. Courtesy image

Los Angeles County will work with the state and local partners to ensure that those eligible for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are able to get their third dose, while prioritizing those that have not yet gotten their first dose, and those that are most at risk for severe outcomes according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved third shots of the Pfizer formula for people who are 65 and older, people at high risk of severe illness, and health care workers and others in danger of becoming infected on the job. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.

The U.S. has already authorized third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients but widespread adoption of additional doses has not been recommended yet.

“If you’re in an eligible group but you received a vaccine, other than the Pfizer vaccine,” Ferrer said. “It looks like you will need to wait until the FDA reviews the data around the need for the Moderna or J&J boosters.”

Ferrer said the easiest way to plan for a booster if you fall into one of the eligible groups is to make an appointment at one of the hundreds of sites that offer Pfizer vaccines using the online system (https://myturn.ca.gov/). Boosters are initially limited to people who received two doses of Pfizer prior to April 1.

Community members looking to get their third dose need to bring proof that you have received two previous Pfizer doses, which for most people will be in the form of a white vaccination card or a digital vaccine record. Or you may be asked to sign an attestation form at the time you get your booster dose indicating that you meet the criteria to receive a booster.

LA County currently has 1,300 permanent vaccine sites and 400 mobile teams ready to assist community members who need to be vaccinated or a booster shot. The county also has the ability to administer 130,000 doses daily.

The majority of LA residents who live in skilled nursing homes received the Moderna vaccine, which will force them to wait for a booster shot.

Officials said if residents have questions about their booster status, it is recommended that you talk to your primary care doctor about your concerns.

Ferrer said flu vaccinations are also in the pipeline and encouraged widespread adoption of flu vaccines as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to absorb healthcare resources.

“Obviously it’s super important that we get our flu vaccinations, and this is the time where we’re starting to vaccinate,” she said. “There’ll be many sites where we’re going to be offering both flu and COVID. For those who haven’t yet gotten a vaccine or maybe needing a booster and, you know, the guidance right now supports that you can get both of those vaccinations at the same time, for those people who don’t want to get both of those vaccinations at the same time, depending on where you fall in terms of eligibility for boosters, we would encourage those not yet eligible to go ahead now you can get your flu, your flu shots all across the county you’re ready, go ahead and do that.”

daniel@smdp.com