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Napa County opens up COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adult residents

COVID-19 vaccination in Napa

Reyna Rivera received her COVID-19 during an August clinic at OLE Health in Napa. On Wednesday, Napa County announced it is joining other California counties in opening up booster shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to adults 18 and older who have gone at least six months since their second dose.

Napa and other counties across California are opening up booster doses of the coronavirus vaccine to all adults 18 and older amid concerns about climbing infection rates heading into the holiday season, health officials announced Wednesday.

Those who have received the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna may receive a booster six months after their second dose, in line with the guidance released last week by the state Department of Public Health. Previously, such federal and state authorities had recommended third doses only for certain groups at higher risk of contracting the virus.

In a news release, Napa County Public Health urged those in higher-risk groups – including people 65 and older, those with pre-existing medical conditions, and those working in high-risk settings – to receive boosters as soon as possible. A previous recommendation for those who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to get a follow-up dose two months later remains in effect.

“Boosters are essential for higher-risk individuals, but we’re learning that boosters are quite beneficial for most people,” the county’s public health director Dr. Karen Relucio said in the statement. “This recent change in guidance from CDPH allows us to take a more expansive approach to our booster campaign. If you have been vaccinated in the spring, you are likely eligible for a booster now. Getting a booster is an important way to protect ourselves, our families and friends, and our community as we enter the busy holiday season.”

Vaccine boosters are being offered by medical offices, pharmacies, health care systems, and community groups, among others. Residents are not required to receive a booster from the same entity that provided their original doses. Any eligible person seeking a booster shot should consult with their medical provider, or access the booster through a retail drugstore.

The expansion of booster availability comes on the tail of an increase in COVID-19 infections that Relucio on Tuesday said has health officials on the lookout for a rise in hospitalizations in the coming weeks, as colder weather and family gatherings draw more people indoors. In recent days, Napa County, which had spent several weeks mostly in the “substantial” tier of viral spread, has risen to the “high” tier, with the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people jumping from 6.3 last week to 10.9 this week, she told the Board of Supervisors.

(The daily report is the number of cases the county becomes aware of on a given day, not the number of positive cases found by labs that day, according to the county.)

On Wednesday, Napa County’s COVID-19 informational website reported 10 new positive tests, with seven people hospitalized in the county due to the virus. A computer model built on forecasts from COVID ActNow, Johns Hopkins University, and Stanford University estimates that local hospitalizations could rise to 14 by the start of December.

To search for available vaccination clinics or for more information, visit Napa County’s COVID-19 website at countyofnapa.org/2739/Coronavirus-COVID-19. California’s online vaccination scheduling system MyTurn is available at myturn.ca.gov.

More than 80% of people who are vaccinated got their vaccination more than six months ago, which means protection is waning for millions of people as we head into the holiday season. The CDC, last month, recommended anyone 65 years or older, as well as adults with underlying medical conditions or who work in high-risk jobs, get a COVID-19 booster shot.  In San Francisco, at this point, only around one in three eligible seniors have heeded that call. "We're starting to see hospitalizations in that group even though they have been vaccinated and some deaths," infectious diseases specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said.   Across California, fewer people have been getting boosters than anticipated.  State officials are now trying to give boosters a boost, asking health providers to get proactive in their outreach and ordering that for anyone 18 and older, they "not turn a patient away who is requesting a booster."That exceeds federal guidelines, as the FDA is still considering Pfizer's request for emergency authorization of its booster for all adults.  California's move to open booster shot eligibility to millions comes amid, once again, a rising number of infections and, from the governor, a rising level of concern. "We enjoyed the summer where we had the lowest case rates in the summer for a large portion of the summer. Just yesterday we went up to about 16th lowest," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. "That moved rather quickly. I say that not to alarm people, but to caution folks."The governor's push to vaccinate is meeting push back. This week, protesters on Thursday gathered on the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge to protest against vaccine mandates. In California, and nationwide, doctors are becoming less hopeful that enough people will get vaccinated to end winter waves of the virus. "We're going to navigate this new world where infections are going to happen," Chin-Hong said. "We're moving from an epidemic or pandemic situation to endemic, where it's probably going to surge every winter as a new normal.  Because, it appears, COVID isn't going away anytime soon, boosting the immune systems of the already-vaccinated up to snuff is rising as a public health priority.  "If you've got your vaccine more than six months ago and you got breakthrough infection, you might be protected if you're otherwise healthy and younger," Chin-Hong said. "But it doesn't mean that you won't carry infection that may then spread to someone else."

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You can reach Howard Yune at 530-763-2266 or hyune@napanews.com

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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