CA's new COVID-19 booster policy creates confusion; here's how to navigate an appointment

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ByKate Larsen KGO logo
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Policy confusion: How to navigate COVID booster appt. in CA
There is now widespread confusion in California about who can book a booster appointment and how.

Last week, California health officials encouraged all adults in the state to get a COVID booster. But the advice conflicts with current CDC guidance. As a result, there is now widespread confusion about who can book a booster appointment and how.

"Do not turn a patient away who is requesting a booster," that's what California's public health officer wrote last week in a letter, saying all adults in the state should be allowed to determine their own risk of exposure.

RELATED: Santa Clara Co. clarifies where residents can get boosters after promising everyone can get one

But online vaccine scheduling systems have yet to catch up with California's more liberal booster policy - which is now open to anyone 18 and older, six months after full vaccination with Pfizer or Moderna, or two months after a J&J shot.

Santa Clara mom, Tru Love, tried to make an appointment online at Walgreens. But that led to booster screening questions, based on CDC guidelines, which ruled her out. She's not 65 or older, no underlying medical conditions, doesn't live in a long term care facility, and isn't at increased risk at work.

VIDEO: 'It's unacceptable': Anger after Sutter Health gives wrong amount of COVID vaccine to children

In the East Bay, several children are sick after reportedly being given wrong dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

"They're like we don't care what Santa Clara says we only care what the CDC says," said Love, who added, "I was not about to lie, I am not that person."

"If there are ethical dilemmas that arise at the individual level as a result of this, that's a sign of a system's problem that needs to be fixed. There needs to be all the entities on the same page," said David Magnus, the director for Stanford's Center for Biomedical Ethics.

Should people stretch the truth for a booster or answer honestly like Love did in Santa Clara?

Magnus does not think fibbing is justified.

"If they don't meet any of those criterial, they don't need a booster, they should be patient and wait, and there's really no reason for them to lie."

RELATED: CA health officials encourage all adults to get booster shots as winter surge fears grow

Laine Hendricks, with Marin County, says Marin is aligned with the state's booster policy and hopes people get boosted before the holidays.

She says to be patient while appointment databases are updated and recommends people double check their eligibility based on their work environment and health conditions:

"The CDC's list actually includes a lot of common ailments such as asthma, anxiety, obesity, maybe you're a former smoker," explained Hendricks.

And for those who don't want to wait, Hendricks says to check for walk-in appointments.