California is one of the first states to allow COVID-19 booster shots for all people age 18 and up.
By Edward Segal, Staff Writer
Six months after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months after their Johnson & Johnson shot, people can now receive a booster, according to the CDC.
California passed the regulation after being told by both the FDA and the CDC to only provide booster shots for seniors and high-risk individuals, and is one of many states to forego this advice.Seventeen states strived to approve boosters ahead of the CDC, including New York, Utah, Colorado, and West Virginia.
The FDA is moving toward approving Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for all adults, based on data supporting their effectiveness. The CDC met Friday to discuss booster shot recommendations, and unanimously agreed that people above 50 should get the booster if they initially received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. People between 18 and 50 should receive the booster based on individual risks and benefits, according to the CDC.
After receiving his Johnson & Johnson vaccine seven months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom got a Moderna booster and encourages citizens of the state to do the same.
“I want folks to understand why this is more important than it may appear,” said Newsom while getting his booster at Asian Health Services in Oakland. “We’re here to promote caution and the imperative of considering getting boosters.”
The CDC allows mixing and matching of vaccine types. According to the CDC, booster shots are the same formulation as the initial shots, with the exception of Moderna’s, which is half the dose of the initial vaccine.
The side effects of the booster shot — fever, headache, fatigue and pain at the injection site — are the same as those of the initial dose. Serious side effects are rare but may occur according to the CDC.
“The booster question is being worked out as we speak,” said Dr. Albert Shaw, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist. “Since we are learning about COVID-19 in real time, [whether we need the booster] is hard to know.”
As reported by Yale Medicine, both Pfizer and Moderna have asserted that their vaccines are still effective after six months. The CDC conducted a study in New York showing that vaccine effectiveness dropped from 91.8 percent to 75 percent, though the vaccines were still highly effective against hospitalization. The boosters on the other hand are meant to increase protection against mild infections.
The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, believes it is unacceptable for countries that have already used most of the available vaccines to use even more of them before people in low-income countries have had the chance to get their first two doses.
“We’re making conscious choices right now not to protect those in most need,” said Ghebreyesus in a statement in July.
According to the Scientific American, the United States has only delivered 190 million of the 1.2 billion doses the country promised to deliver to low-income countries. The World Health Organization launched a plan to have 40 percent of the world’s population vaccinated by December 2021, but according to the BBC, over 50 countries are set to miss it.
Despite these concerns, the United States continues to move forward with providing booster shots, though as of now, no motions have been made to require them at any establishments.