Health Department opens Saturday hours to accommodate Pfizer boosters for those 50+ 

SAN LUIS OBISPO — San Luis Obispo County Public Health released a statement on Thursday, Sept. 23, that County Health officials and medical experts are reviewing evidence that suggests the COVID-19 vaccine may lessen overtime for some recipients. 

This information followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meeting on Sept. 22 amending the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose, to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series in:

  • individuals 65 years of age and older;
  • individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19; and 
  • individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19.

Comirnaty (COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine, mRNA) was approved by the FDA on Aug. 23, stating that it would prevent COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 in individuals 16 years of age and older. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

On Aug. 25, the FDA received a supplement from Pfizer Inc. to their biologics license application for Comirnaty, seeking approval of a single booster dose to be administered approximately six months after completing the primary vaccination series for all individuals 16 years of age and older. That request was amended to recommend to those 65 and older with the highest risk of severe outcomes. 

To support the authorization for emergency use of a single booster dose, the FDA analyzed the safety and immune response data from a subset of participants from the original clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. 

In addition, consideration was given to real-world data on the vaccine’s efficacy over a sustained period of time provided by both U.S. and international sources, including the CDC, the UK, and Israel. The immune responses of approximately 200 participants 18 through 55 years of age who received a single booster dose approximately six months after their second dose were assessed. 

Safety was evaluated in 306 participants 18 through 55 years of age and 12 participants 65 years of age and older who were followed for an average of over two months. The most commonly reported side effects by the clinical trial participants who received the booster dose of the vaccine were pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, as well as fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, and chills. Of note, swollen lymph nodes in the underarm were observed more frequently following the booster dose than after the primary two-dose series.

Since Dec. 11, 2020, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been available under EUA for individuals 16 years of age and older. The authorization was expanded on May 10 to include those 12 through 15 years of age and again on Aug. 12, to include the use of a third dose of a three-dose primary series in specific immunocompromised individuals 12 years of age and older. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 28, the county announced that they would offer Pfizer boosters at Public Health clinics in Grover Beach, Paso Robles, and San Luis Obispo. 

Due to limited capacity, health officials will first provide boosters to those with the greatest risk—all community members over 65, those over 50 with certain high-risk medical conditions, and those in long-term care facilities. These are the populations that the Western States Workgroup stated “should” get a booster. 

Local health officials request other groups who “may” get boosters (those between 18 and 49 with underlying medical conditions or at higher risk due to occupational exposure) seek a Pfizer booster from their local pharmacy or healthcare provider. 

To accommodate the rollout, health officials also announced that Public Health clinics will begin operating on Saturday, Oct. 2, and will be open every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available at no cost on Saturdays. Doses are provided by appointment through MyTurn.ca.gov. Documentation of age is required for boosters. A limited number of walk-ins are available, as supply allows. 

For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit ReadySLO.org

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, contact your personal healthcare physician.