These Two States Will Let All Adults Get COVID-19 Boosters—As Long as They’ve Been Vaccinated for This Long

These Two States Will Let All Adults Get COVID-19 Boosters—As Long as They’ve Been Vaccinated for This Long

by Sue Jones
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Both California and Colorado will allow all adults who are at least six months past their two-dose COVID-19 vaccination or two months past their J&J shot to receive vaccine boosters.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved booster shots for adults with certain medical conditions, people 65 and older, and adults who are at high risk for exposure to the virus.

On November 10, Colorado governor Jared Polis expanded that definition by issuing an order that puts all adult Coloradans in the high-risk category. “Because disease spread is so significant across Colorado, all Coloradans who are 18 years of age and older are at high risk and qualify for a booster shot,” he said in the order.

Colorado is currently facing a coronavirus surge that has officials making plans for how to ration care in overwhelmed hospitals, as The Denver Post reports.

California, on the other hand, is encouraging vaccine providers to interpret the FDA’s guidance liberally. In a letter on November 9, Tomás Aragón, M.D., Dr.P.H., state health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, instructed vaccine providers to let people requesting a vaccine “self-determine their risk of exposure.” He told them not to turn away a person seeking a booster as long as they were six months out from a double dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months out from a single dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

“The patient’s assessment of risk exposure may include, but is not limited to, those who work with the public or live with someone who works with the public, live or work with someone at high risk of severe impact of COVID, live in geographic areas that have been heavily impacted by COVID, reside in high-transmission areas, live in a congregate setting, experience social inequity, or other risk conditions as assessed by the individual,” he wrote.

He also encouraged medical providers to offer vaccinations and boosters at every appointment. “Providers should not miss any opportunity to vaccinate the unvaccinated or provide boosters by offering vaccine during routine or nonroutine visits to medical offices, clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals,” he wrote.

The decision about whether to implement booster shots has had some mixed messaging. As SELF previously reported, the White House initially suggested that most people would receive a booster, only to have the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention limit their booster approval for a smaller group of high-risk individuals. Some experts felt there wasn’t enough data to suggest immunity waned significantly in the general population, which meant that boosters weren’t yet necessary. There were also ethical questions about wealthy countries getting a possibly helpful third dose when many countries hadn’t gotten their definitely helpful first doses into arms.

However, CDC director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., said Wednesday that the conversation is far from over. “As you likely know, FDA is currently looking at the data for expanding boosters to all populations,” Dr. Walensky said.


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