UCSD Chief Medical Officer provides insight on COVID vaccine booster shots

booster shots
Posted at 11:13 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-25 09:43:13-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Getting a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a hot topic of conversation for a shot stored in the cold.

“I think it is very confusing and I don’t blame people for being confused when they’re hearing this constantly evolving news,” Dr. Chris Longhurst, Chief Medical Officer for UCSD Health, said.

So ABC 10News went to an expert to better explain booster shots and who can get them.

The Center for Disease Control & Prevention landed on a couple of clearer ground rules about these booster shots on Thursday night.

First, it’s those 65 and older and those in long-term care settings.

Second, those who 50 to 64 years old with underlying health conditions.

“Now the CDC also said that there are groups that may receive a booster shot. And that includes those who age 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions or people aged 18 to 64 who are at increased risk because of where they work. And that includes healthcare workers,” Longhurst said.

Pfizer is the only vaccine right now with the green light for booster shots from the CDC.

Longhurst said that it could be a couple of weeks on the recommendations for a Moderna booster shot.

But, there are some people who are getting an extra shot of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

“So, people who got Moderna or Johnsons and Johnson are only being asked it get a second or third shot if they’re immunosuppressed or transplant patients at this time,” Longhurst said.

Longhurst told ABC 10News that this guidance had been in place prior to the booster shot guidance.

He did say that there’s a difference between a booster shot and those are getting a second or third jab in the arm.

“So, a third dose is really to help you achieve that initial immunity that we found immunosuppressed people aren’t getting after two doses,” Longhurst said.

“Whereas for the rest of us who did after two shots and it’s been waning, this is what we call a booster shot.”

With all of this new guidance from the CDC coming out, there’s data from San Diego Immunization Registry showing as of last Thursday there were already more than 43, 000 additional Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses in the county.

A spokesperson from the County of San Diego sent in an email to ABC 10News, “Among these doses, 21,992 (50.8%) were Moderna, 20,568 (47.5%) were Pfizer, and 748 (1.7%) were J&J. Most of the total 43,408 additional doses were administered at CVS (31.1%), followed by Rite Aid (11.2%), and UCSD (8.2%) with a variety of other pharmacies, providers and health systems making up the rest. "

"Note that while it may appear that some people have received more than 1 extra dose, data entry or administrative errors in the initial reporting should also be considered as contributing to the overall number. SDIR does not routinely record information regarding whether individuals are immunocompromised, so our doses numbers do not delineate how many of those 43,308 are immunocompromised, duplicative etc. It is possible that some individuals who are not immunocompromised have gotten extra doses.”

Longhurst said that the 3,000 doses that they administered met CDC criteria and reached out to high-risk patients to get them those doses.

“There was nothing suspicious or cheating going on. We do know that there’s some people going to pharmacies and self-attesting that they deserve a third shot or that they might be immunosuppressed. And it’s very difficult for the pharmacies to police,” Longhurst said.

Booster shots are now a part of the ever-changing pandemic.

Longhurst encourages people to reach out to medical professionals when it comes to them.

“So, it’s a crazy time. But if you’re eligible, reach out to your doctor or your health system and we’d love to give you a booster.”