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County Administrator's Office

For Immediate Release

Sonoma County to follow state guidance on boosters, encourages residents to check with doctor to see if eligible

Santa Rosa,CA | August 20, 2021

Sonoma County will follow the guidance of the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in providing booster shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to certain immunocompromised individuals in Sonoma County.

While recognizing that many local pharmacies are already offering booster shots to eligible residents, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase encourages residents to contact their primary care physicians to see whether they are eligible for the booster shots and, if so, to arrange to get the third shot of vaccination.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week authorized third doses of both the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines for certain immunocompromised people such as organ transplant recipients, cancer patients and those undergoing hemodialysis or immunosuppressive therapies.

The California Department of Health endorsed the FDA decision, issuing guidelines that provide access to additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines for those with moderately to severely compromised immune systems. 

“It’s important to remind people that this booster is not intended for everyone at this point,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, Health Officer for Sonoma County. “This additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should be considered only for people with moderate to severe immune compromise due to a medical condition or being a recipient of immunosuppressive medications or treatments.”

The CDC has estimated that 2.7 percent of the U.S. population would qualify for the booster due to being immunocompromised. Dr. Mase emphasized that these are the individuals who are most likely to have a lower response to the initial two-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. Studies have shown that vaccines are only 59 percent to 72 percent effective among immunocompromised individuals while being 90 to 94 percent effective among the rest of the population. Recent studies also have shown that 40 to 44 percent of COVID-positive cases among fully vaccinated individuals across the nation have been among immunocompromised individuals. 

Although the administration of President Joe Biden this week supported the idea of boosters being made available for all fully vaccinated people, a third dose has not yet been authorized by the FDA for all recipients. However, the CDC has indicated that a broader list of people will be eligible for booster shots soon, possibly by September.

Meanwhile, Sonoma County continues to work to get first doses to roughly 20 percent of its eligible population. As of today, 72 percent of the County’s eligible population is fully vaccinated while another 8 percent is partially vaccinated.

According to CDPH guidance, if someone is eligible for an additional mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, the dose should be the same vaccine as the initial two-dose mRNA series of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna. A person should not receive more than three mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses.