SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- With authorization from the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday, and an endorsement from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory board, California officials say the state is ready to start giving COVID-19 booster shots to those eligible as soon as it gets final approval.
The panel recommended booster shots for those 65 and older and some adults at high risk for severe illness.
“We are rolling out this plan to demonstrate California’s preparation to serve this function and make sure our residents are vaccinated and protected to the fullest,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary, on a call Thursday.
Ghaly said many of the roughly 6.5 million Californians over the age of 65 would be eligible if they received the Pfizer vaccine.
The state released its Vaccine Action Plan Thursday; that plan says about 167,000 doses will be needed per day the week of Oct. 4, just for those over 65 who were vaccinated six months ago.
The plan says the state will mostly rely on pharmacies and primary care providers to administer those doses.
California’s MyTurn.CA.Gov website will also be updated to launch a booster eligibility screener where Californians can make third dose appointments or find walk-in sites near them.
In August, San Diego County began giving Pfizer booster shots to the already eligible immunocompromised population.
Dr. Jyotu Sandhu with Sharp Reese-Stealy said the vaccine roll out for that group had gone smoothly so far, and the healthcare system is prepared to expand to the next eligible groups.
“Right now, we are setting up an infrastructure to get the third booster shots to those who are eligible,” he said. “The supply issue is not a problem. The sooner we get people boostered, the sooner we get the unvaccinated vaccinated, the sooner we’ll get over this.”
According to Lydia Ikeda, Sr. Director of COVID Operations for UCSD Health, UC San Diego Health has also successfully rolled out the third doses to the currently eligible population.
She said they too are prepared to expand the vaccine to their current UCSD Health patients.
“We’ve been planning for this for a while,” said Ikeda. “As soon as we get the green light, we’re ready to go; operationally we will be providing our patients with the booster shots through our drive-ups in La Jolla and Hillcrest.”
There are no plans from either healthcare system to reopen the mass vaccination sites, or super stations that initially provided vaccinations for most San Diegans earlier this year; however, plans could change if the demand increases.
The Western State Scientific Safety Review work group will also weigh in on the CDC panel’s recommendation.