Though the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization Friday to administer third booster shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to those aged 65 and older and those at high risk of severe COVID-19 who already received that vaccine more than six months ago, Long Beach health officials say they’re holding off for now.
Instead, city health officials are waiting for “more specific booster dose recommendations” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which should be issuing guidelines next week, according to a Sept. 18 city news release.
“In Long Beach, the top priority of the Health and Human Services Department (Health Department) remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting our community from the spread of COVID-19,” stated the news release. “The best tool we have to keep the community healthy during this pandemic is the vaccine, and the Health Department is preparing to offer ample opportunities to get free booster doses when they become available.”
Once the third Pfizer shots are available, the city’s Health and Human Services Department will communicate options available for eligible groups to receive their booster, city officials said.
Though the COVID-19 vaccines are considered safe and effective, federal health officials say their effectiveness decreases over time.
Currently, third doses of the Pfizer vaccine are available in Long Beach for people who are moderate to severely immunocompromised. Booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines haven’t yet been authorized by health officials for any group, though city health officials say eventual authorization is “likely.”
The city has seen 199,104 first vaccine doses administered so far, 173,325 second doses and 711 third doses, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard, which was last updated on Sept. 16. In terms of percentages, 64.9% of city residents of all ages have received at least one vaccine dose, with 56.7% being fully vaccinated.
On Sept. 17, Long Beach officially recorded its 1,000th death from COVID-19.
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