In the weeks since LA County reached the “low” category for COVID-19 community spread, good news continues to roll in. Graphs tracking test positivity, deaths and hospitalizations all resemble ski slopes dropping off following the summer peak. President Biden recently remarked in a “60 Minutes” interview that the pandemic was “over” (a subject of heated debate from health experts).

Santa Monica is among the most vaccinated communities in LA County, with 91.4 percent of residents ages 6 months and older with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to LA County data. But those numbers drop off once boosters are factored in.

In the days since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the latest boosters on Sept. 1, LA County has rolled out vaccine campaigns for eligible Angelenos to get the latest COVID shot, but as of Sept. 20, just 58% of Santa Monicans ages five and up have received a booster beyond the first full vaccination. 

The latest version of the vaccine was developed to specifically combat the omicron variants, with versions available from both Pfizer and Moderna. 

LA County Department of Public Health (DPH) guidance recommends anyone ages 12 and over who is at least two months out from their most recent vaccine dose should receive the updated (bivalent) booster; children ages 12-18 are eligible for the Pfizer version, while adults ages 18 and up are eligible for either the Pfizer or Moderna. The boosters are designed to follow the full, two-dose vaccine schedule, so residents should not request a booster before being fully vaccinated. 

The new bivalent boosters have replaced previous boosters that were available for fully vaccinated people, so if you schedule a booster appointment you will not need to specify that you prefer the new formula. Eligibility for the bivalent boosters is open to everyone in the above categories, whether or not they received one or multiple doses of previous boosters, meaning someone who received one or more boosters earlier this year can still receive an updated version. 

DPH also suggests that if you recently recovered from COVID-19, “you may consider delaying a vaccine dose (primary series or booster) by 3 months from when your symptoms started or when you first had a positive test (if you didn’t have any symptoms).” It is not recommended to receive a vaccine while experiencing coronavirus symptoms, as you may put healthcare workers at risk and there may be more protection if you receive the booster following infection.

Vaccines remain free for all county residents, and DPH pledges “you will not be asked about your immigration status when you get a vaccine.”

As of Tuesday, walk-up vaccinations were being accepted at the Walgreens at 1932 Wilshire Boulevard, offering both the Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters as well as the first Pfizer shot to anyone who has not yet received the original vaccine.

Booster appointments were available in multiple locations around Santa Monica including Vons (710 Broadway), Walgreens (1911 Lincoln), Central Pharmacy (2008 Wilshire), Rite Aid (1331 Wilshire) and more. 

Visit vaccinatelacounty.com for more resources on how to get a bivalent booster.

emily@smdp.com