Nevada County health official responds to CDC call for boosters
With the emergence of new strains of COVID — like the highly contagious Delta variant — new federal precautions have been proposed, and for certain groups of people another round of vaccination could be appropriate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday outlined a plan to offer a COVID-19 booster shot in light of the Delta variant.
Nevada County Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Kellerman said a third shot of one of the messenger RNA vaccines, Pfizer or Moderna, can be beneficial for the immunocompromised, as well as those who have had an organ transplant.
A third shot is also beneficial to chemotherapy patients, and those receiving large doses of steroids for lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
“It could be the first two doses were not efficacious in some people — those who don’t have a robust immunity — so a third dose 28 days after the second would be (warranted),” said Kellerman.
Kellermann distinguished that third shot for someone who’s immunocompromised from a booster shot. A booster would be given eight months after a second dose was given. It’s recommended for the elderly, those living in congregate settings (nursing home) and health care workers.
“Now it is not an official CDC policy, just an announcement,” Kellerman said. “I’m not sure when the CDC will provide anything more definite — possibly in the fall.”
The one-shot Johnson & Johnson regimen was not included, but will undergo a separate study.
It’s recommended people get the same vaccine they had previously Kellerman said. People can check the date and the manufacturer of their vaccine online at MyTurn.ca.gov or by calling 1-833-422-4255.
“Medical scientists are finding the immunity wanes after eight months so, that’s why they’re proposing it,” said Kellerman.
About 1 million boosters have already been administered in the U.S., Kellermann said.
Side effects include pain at the injection site, lethargy, aching joints, not feeling very good or mild flu symptoms, which result from the antibodies being produced.
Kellermann said he hoped herd immunity would avoid the need for boosters.
“Herd immunity had been expected at 70% of vaccination, but because of Delta, which really has taken hold rapidly, it may be 90% needed vaccination or exposure to the virus for natural immunity,” he said. “But that’s why hospital beds are filling up.”
If California were still under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework, Nevada County would be in the purple tier, the most restrictive.
“But mathematical models have shown that wearing masks conscientiously, by everybody indoors and outdoors at crowded events, works better than a lockdown,” said Kellerman.
Top scientists at the World Health Organization have opposed the CDC recommendation of boosters, saying that poor countries are not getting enough vaccines for an initial round of shots. Kellerman believes the U.S. has the capacity and magnanimity for a dual track approach.
“I hope we can do both, boosters and disburse to poorer nations,” he said.
William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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