Valley health leaders encourage boosters as holiday season starts

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- COVID-19 booster shots can now go into the arms of all adults after federal officials expanded eligibility for the shots last week.

Health facilities around the Central Valley are ready to roll up the sleeves of adults 18 and older who are in need of their COVID-19 booster shot.

Dr. Erum Kazim, with Dignity Health Medical Group, said it's even more important for higher-risk groups to get the booster.

"For example, someone aged 50 or older or if you're over age 18 and living in a long-term care facility, then it is even more highly recommended for you," Dr. Kazim said.

Under the new rules, anyone 18 or older can choose either a Pfizer or Moderna booster six months after their last dose. For anyone who got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the wait has been two months.

According to Dr. Kazim, you can mix-and-match boosters, saying all are effective and provide increased protection.

"If people have specific questions about one vaccine type over another, I would encourage them to talk to their physician and find out and discuss what would be the best option for them," she said.

Dr. Dee Lacy, with Kaiser Permanente Fresno, said it's already been two or six months after many people's last dose of the vaccine.

"We know that the protection has decreased a bit, especially for people over 50," said Dr. Lacy.

Now that it's the beginning of the holiday season, both health experts said the booster will provide increased protection as people plan to travel and gather in group, which puts them at risk for catching or spreading the virus.

"Having the initial vaccine series and the booster reduces the risk of becoming seriously ill, not only for yourself, for your friends and family, and particularly those who are not eligible to be vaccinated," said Dr. Kazim. "For example, children under five years old."

To find a booster in California, visit the MyTurn website to book an appointment or find a walk-in location.
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