SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Health officials rolled out a COVID-19 vaccination plan Thursday, preparing for the avalanche of Californians 65 and older seeking a booster shot while also remaining laser-focused on getting the non-vaccinated in the state to get a shot.
Currently, California has administered 50 million doses of the vaccine and has the lowest transmission rate of the virus of any state in the nation.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration signed off on offering booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to senior citizens and others at high risk from the virus. However, more regulatory hurdles lie ahead before the dispensing of boosters can begin.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were meeting Thursday to work out the details on how the booster shots will be administered. The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup will also issue its recommendations before California will greenlight the shots.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is ready whenever that plan is approved.
“Vaccines work. They are safe, effective, and are how we end this pandemic,” Newsom said. “We fully support our federal partners’ determination to provide boosters, and California has built the necessary infrastructure to mobilize such vaccine distribution.”
Developed in concert with local partners and health providers statewide, state officials were working to leverage the existing vaccine infrastructure to connect eligible Californians with their local providers who can administer the booster shots.
“Along with boosting protection to those that need it and proactively reaching out to newly eligible individuals, the state will continue to focus much of our vaccination efforts on reaching the unvaccinated and encouraging them to get vaccinated to keep themselves and their community safe,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.
The state’s MyTurn.ca.gov platform is ready to launch its booster eligibility screener and appointment finder to connect Californians to walk-in vaccine locations and appointments near them.
The site will also send text message alerts to Californians when eligible for a booster to ensure people know their options.
“California is fortunate to have enough supply of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is ready to get doses to the providers that need them,” officials said in a news release.
FDA acting commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement that her agency’s authorization will also allow for boosters in health care workers, teachers, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons.
Under the FDA authorization, vaccinated Americans are eligible for a third dose six months after receiving their second Pfizer shot. That’s different than the Biden proposal announced in August, which called for boosters after eight months.