Bay Area preparing mass vaccination sites to administer Pfizer's COVID booster shot

Stephanie Sierra Image
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Bay Area preparing vaccination sites for future Pfizer booster shot
Health officers are preparing to roll out vaccinations as the FDA approval for Pfizer's COVID-19 booster shot is expected in two weeks.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Health officers across the Bay Area are preparing to roll out another round of vaccinations as the FDA approval for Pfizer's COVID-19 booster shot is expected in two weeks.

"I expect the rollout for boosters may be as early as the end of September or as late as the end of October," said Dr. Lisa Santora, deputy health officer for Marin County.

The FDA is holding an advisory committee meeting on Sept. 17 to discuss the safety and efficacy data of Pfizer's booster vaccine.

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Santora explains if Pfizer's booster receives approval from the FDA, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, will determine which groups should be prioritized first. Then the California Department of Public Health will issue formal guidance to counties before any rollout can begin.

"What I anticipate is that the CDC will release a holding statement providing some direction to both the states and the local health jurisdictions on the next steps," said Santora.

ABC7 confirmed all nine Bay Area counties are preparing to roll out booster shots through healthcare partners like local pharmacies or doctor's clinics.

"I can imagine that UCSF and Kaiser will set up large vaccination sites, the city may do some too," said UCSF's Dr. George Rutherford.

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San Francisco has one of the nation's highest coronavirus vaccination rates at nearly 80-percent, but with the Delta variant, it wants more.

Preparations are underway for the San Mateo County Event Center to transition into a mass vaccination site to administer at least 2,000 to 3,000 COVID booster shots per day.

"Once all those approval happen, we can turn the event center into a vaccination site within a few days," said Dr. Anand Chabra with San Mateo County Health.

In Solano County, the health department is working with healthcare providers to distribute booster shots directly to long-term care facilities and senior housing complexes during the beginning stages.

"We want to make sure our vulnerable populations get access right away," said Solano County Health Director Dr. Bela Matyas.

The Solano County Fairgrounds is being prepped to turn into a mass vaccination site in Vallejo. Once opened, the site is expected to be running four days a week and on the weekends.

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"We're planning to be able to deliver 100,000 to 120,000 vaccinations at that site over the course of several months," said Matyas.

In Marin County, the health department is working to reopen one large expanded vaccination clinic that will administer 1,500 booster shots per day to serve the county's priority populations.

"Some people have compared this to giving a life jacket to someone who already has a life jacket," said Santora. "So that is one of our concerns."

According to CNN's global vaccine tracker, there are 23 countries around the world where less than 1% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

UCSF's Dr. Bob Wachter weighed in on the ethical dilemma of giving boosters when some countries don't have enough supply for their populations.

"I just think it's unrealistic to ask a society to say we're not going to give people a vaccine that they really do need...because we want to save those doses to give to other countries," Wachter said. "It would be very humanitarian if we did that, but it's not realistic."

Take a look at all of ABC7's Building a Better Bay Area stories and videos here.

VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

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