As of November 12th, all California residents over 18 are eligible for a booster shot with a COVID vaccine. Boosters can be administered six months after full vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, and two months after Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) single shot. This state guidance allows more leeway than the CDC suggestion that persons 18-65 get boosters if they are in occupations that have higher risk of COVID exposure (CDC has since revised its guidance to match California). If you got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines 6 months ago, a booster with the same vaccine is fine. If you got the J&J vaccine, most doctors would recommend a Pfizer or Moderna booster shot.
The evidence that vaccine-induced immunity begins to wane with increasing time after the first round of immunizations continues to accrue, with individuals over 65 and those receiving the J&J vaccine at the most risk. Protection against infection suffers more than protection against hospitalization, and vaccinated individuals who do become infected have milder cases and clear the virus faster than unvaccinated individuals.
Current data shows that those who are unvaccinated are 26 times more likely to have severe disease than the vaccinated. Ninety-two percent of the rare severe cases among the vaccinated occur in individuals with underlying health conditions that impair immune responses. Getting as many people vaccinated as possible is still the top priority, but it is important to get booster shots as we enter the holiday season with colder weather, more travel, and more indoor gatherings. The current resurgence of COVID in Europe and northern states in the US is a warning that another winter wave of infections may be coming to us in Southern California.
We in Del Mar have the luxury of a mild winter climate and a beautiful coastline to enjoy. Put on your jackets and celebrate the holidays with outdoor events shared with vaccinated family and friends. Be safe and get your booster shot!