Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health

San Diego County Residents With Compromised Immune Systems Can Get COVID Booster Shot

Student at Hoover High School receives first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on May 10, 2021.
Alexandra Rangel
Student at Hoover High School receives first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on May 10, 2021.

San Diego County residents with moderately to severely compromised immune systems can get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine to fight waning immunity, it was announced Wednesday, as federal health officials recommended all vaccinated Americans get the booster shots.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the recommendation late last week because immunocompromised people are more susceptible to severe disease from the virus. When making the recommendation, the CDC provided a very specific list of conditions for people who should receive the additional dose.

"San Diegans who are immunocompromised should speak with their doctor to determine the best course of action," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "The best protection against COVID-19 is the vaccine and a third dose will help most people with compromised immune systems from developing severe illness from the virus."

RELATED: US Health Officials Call For Booster Shots Against COVID-19

The county Health and Human Services Agency estimates the immunocompromised population in the county is around 26,000.

The county is working on vaccine plans to meet the guidance being drafted by the CDC for an expansion of additional doses in late September. No details are available currently.

In the meantime, Wooten continued to urge unvaccinated San Diegans to get their first dose and for those due a second dose to not delay. The Delta variant, which is much more contagious, continues to drive up the number of cases being reported in the region and nationwide.

"The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to get us out of this pandemic," Wooten said. "Get vaccinated now to avoid getting sick and passing the virus to others, especially people who are more vulnerable to the disease."

The HHSA on Wednesday reported 1,117 new infections and logged 16 coronavirus-related deaths, increasing the cumulative totals to 318,152 cases and 3,834 fatalities.

RELATED: State Mandates Proof Of Vaccination Or Negative COVID Test For Indoor Events

Eleven men and five women died between July 29 and Aug. 15. Two were 80 years of age or older, five were in their 70s, four were in their 60s, two were in their 50s, two were in their 40s and one was in their 30s. Of those 16, 13 had underlying medical conditions and medical histories were pending for the other three.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 28.7 for the general population but 6 for fully vaccinated people and 55.7 for those not fully vaccinated.

A total of 16,329 tests were reported Wednesday, and the percentage of new positive cases was 6.8%. The 14-day rolling percentage of positive cases among tests is 7.5%.

Officials expect the number of reported cases to increase as more schools and businesses are requiring COVID testing.

A total of 43 new community outbreaks have been confirmed in the past seven days: 12 in business settings, eight in grade school settings, six in restaurant/bar settings, four in health care settings, three in daycare/preschool/childcare settings, three in retail settings, two in hotel/resort/spa settings, and one each in faith-based, government, restaurant, fitness/gym and community-based settings.

Federal health officials Wednesday recommended all vaccinated Americans get booster shots eight months after they become fully vaccinated. That amounts to a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine — and "likely" an additional dose for people who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

Those shots could begin the week of Sept. 20, according to a joint statement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services.

RELATED: Why A Push For Boosters Could Make The Pandemic Even Worse

The CDC and HHS said data "make very clear" that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination — which prompted their recommendation of booster shots for all.

"Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout," the agencies statement said. "For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine- induced protection and prolong its durability."

They added: "We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall subject to FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issuing booster dose recommendations."

In San Diego County in the last 30 days, 92% of COVID-19 cases have occurred in those not fully vaccinated. Of the remaining 8%, San Diego County Chief Medical Officer Eric McDonald said, few are showing symptoms and those are relatively mild.

Of all those hospitalized in the past 30 days, 98% are unvaccinated.

The Delta variant of the virus is considerably more contagious than previous strains and now comprises 95% of the virus' genome, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said at a news conference Monday.