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New COVID Booster Shot Becomes Available in the Bay Area

An updated version of the COVID-19 booster shot, retooled to target the new and more contagious omicron variants, is arriving to the Bay Area.

At the vaccine clinic set up at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose resident Chris Lee said he may have already been sick with one of the first omicron variants, but he wants to be protected against any others. So, he became one of the first in the Bay Area to get the updated vaccine Wednesday. 

“I came because I was concerned about the omicron variant BA.5 and I was hoping to immunize myself from that,” said Lee.

Health experts are encouraging people to get a booster shot, even if they’ve had a recent infection.

With the newest variants, it appears, natural immunity may only last about two months.   

The new booster, called a bivalent shot, includes protection against the original strain of the COVID-19 virus and the two more infectious omicron subvariants that are responsible for most infections today. 

Health experts also say people should expect to get a COVID booster each year, much like a flu shot.

“I want to note that the flu vaccine that you all get every year is going to have four components to it,” said Dr. Oliver Brooks of Watts Healthcare in Los Angeles. “Two for influenza A, two for influenza B, this bivalent now has two.”

The new Pfizer boosters are available for people 12 years old and up. The moderna is available to anyone 18 or older, and now, providers are no longer counting how many prior COVID-19 shots someone has had. 

“It could be a fifth, it could be a sixth for some people. I think it’s gotten to the point where we’re not going to say fifth or sixth shot anymore,” said Dr. Maggie Park of the San Joaquin County Public Health. “We just want to make it clear to people that if you got a shot in the past, as long as it was two months ago, you can get this one.”

According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the new shots are already being distributed to private health care providers.

Appointments should be available soon in all Bay Area counties, and for those looking for a drop in option, the vaccine clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital will have them available next week.  

Other drop-in sites are in the works.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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