Are you considered 'high risk'? Rollout for COVID booster shot to begin across Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- COVID-19 booster shots will soon be rolling out across the Bay Area as the final implementation of federal guidelines is now in the hands of the state.

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup met Friday in the last step before the California Department of Public Health is expected to adopt the CDC's recommendation on boosters.

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"The recommendation I'm sure will be provided to the respective governors over the next 24 hours and pretty soon thereafter I anticipate that you'll be hearing more," said Dr. Grace Lee, a voting member on the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Lee says the state is moving forward with a plan that will advise counties how distribution should work to prioritize anyone 65 and older, long-term care facility residents, and people with underlying medical conditions or who are at high risk to contracting the virus.

"Everyone's situation is a little bit different and can be unique," said Lee. "I can imagine caring for an elderly parent at home who's medically fragile or caring for an immunocompromised child who can't get a vaccine."

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Experts have criticized the high-risk category can be interpreted as a broad category.

"Does this mean anyone who feels 'at-risk' will be able to get a shot?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.
"My understanding in this moment is it will be similar to what has been done in the past," said Lee. "It will be self-attestation at most sites."

Self-attestation means you don't need a doctor's note to get a booster shot, but simply attest to the fact you meet the eligibility requirements.

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UCSF's Chief of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Maria Raven is concerned some may take advantage of that.

"Depending on people's judgement about what their own risk is," Raven said. "I definitely think there is room for people to overstep. I think it's important for people to understand if you're not slated to get a booster, there's a reason for that and you don't need to get one. We need to make sure we have vaccine equity across the nation and across the world."

ABC7 confirmed all nine Bay Area counties will be working with medical partners to open a network of vaccinations sites ranging from doctor's offices, to clinics or pharmacies.

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In San Francisco, the health department plans to administer 25,000 booster doses per week across 100 sites that will be within a 10 to 15 minute walk of most neighborhoods. This includes all major health systems and four school-based sites.

Raven expects some sites will launch within days of the state's approval.

"Now that the vaccine doesn't need to be stored at -80 degrees in a special freezer it makes distribution much easier and people are going to be able to go to the drug store or even their doctor's office to get the vaccine," said Raven.

CVS pharmacy announced select locations will be offering the Pfizer booster shot to eligible populations starting Friday. Meantime in Marin County, a large indoor vaccination clinic is aiming to reopen within weeks.

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One father says the benefits of enrolling his kids in the two-year Stanford trial outweighed any potential risk. "It's way worse to get COVID."



"They would park and go into an indoor clinic at an indoor site, but it won't be a mass vaccination site," said Dr. Lisa Santora, a Deputy Health Officer for Marin County. "We're aiming to vaccinate 1,500 people per day."

Preparations are underway to reopen the San Mateo County Event Center as a mass vaccination site within a few days if smaller run clinics become overwhelmed, the county confirmed.

"There isn't the same urgency and we've had much more time to plan for this," said Dr. Aanad Chabra, the Medical Director for Family Health Services with San Mateo County Health.

The CDC's final recommendations include the following:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
  • People aged 50-64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
  • People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.


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