For Immediate Release
Sonoma County opens COVID-19 boosters broadly to adults to avoid winter surge
Santa Rosa,CA | November 15, 2021
Sonoma County is opening-up COVID-19 boosters to all adults 18 years and older, provided they qualify based on the timing of their last dose of the vaccine. No adult who seeks to strengthen their immune systems in advance of the holiday season will be turned away under the guidelines.
All recipients of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines may now receive a booster as long as at least six months have passed since receiving their second dose. The broad expansion of booster eligibility aligns Sonoma County with California Department of Public Health guidance this week stating patients can self-determine their risk of COVID-19 exposure. Previously, only certain categories of higher-risk individuals were eligible for boosters under federal and state guidelines.
All recipients of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster two months after their previous dose, a criteria that remains the same.
Anyone in a higher-risk group – including seniors 65 and older, people with underlying medical conditions, people who work in high-risk settings and all Johnson & Johnson recipients – is urged to get a booster as soon as possible.
“We are expanding eligibility for COVID-19 boosters because we want to head off a surge in COVID as we enter the busy holiday season,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s health officer. “We are already seeing an uptick in cases, and that could put more people in the hospital, particularly vulnerable people, even if they are fully vaccinated. We have been stressing that boosters are essential for higher-risk individuals, but now it’s become apparent that we need many more people to receive a booster dose to slow the spread of the virus. Getting a booster will help protect you, your family, your friends and our community.”
People should seek appointments at their primary care providers and at pharmacies. Vaccine supplies will be limited at the county’s fixed and pop-up clinics.
While health systems and pharmacies are prepared to turn no one away, it will take time to update the screening tools used during appointment bookings. Some may continue to ask patients if they qualify for boosters under the narrower set of eligibility criteria. As the systems are updated, people should choose the least restrictive of the criteria that applies to them. Many work and residential settings pose a risk of exposure to COVID.
More than 55,100 boosters have been administered in Sonoma County since they were authorized for higher-risk groups in September. The county is averaging nearly 1,100 booster doses a day. Of the total administered, nearly 35,000 boosters have gone to seniors ages 65 and older, or 43 percent of the eligible population. Meanwhile, more than 20,300 booster doses have been administered to residents under age 65.
Sonoma County is committed to ensuring low-barrier access to COVID-19 vaccine booster doses, just as we have with primary dose vaccinations. The county will continue to prioritize first doses for the 27 percent of our eligible population who are not fully vaccinated.