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Local Health Officials Await State’s Decision To Start Giving COVID Boosters

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot for people 65 and older, at-risk individuals and front-line health care workers, local health officials say they’re still waiting for approval from the state.

Last year, to ease the public concerns over the vaccine approval process, Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado, formed the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to independently review the Food and Drug Administration and CDC’s recommendations. The Workgroup gave its approval Friday afternoon, and the state Department of Public Health is expected to follow suit.

RELATED: CDC Leader Adds People With Risky Jobs To COVID Booster List

That is what county officials and local hospitals are waiting for. In a statement, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said once that happens "our region will be well-prepared to provide Pfizer booster shots for those who are eligible."

Dr. Jyotu Sandhu, a family doctor at Sharp Healthcare, said the hospital is gearing up to provide boosters but hasn’t yet.

"We are looking at the recommendations very carefully at the moment and we're gearing up for anything that could be changing and coming down the pipeline," he said.

At Scripps Health, CEO Chris Van Gorder said the hospital is anticipating a big demand from people looking to get boosters. He said Scripps is in talks with the Del Mar Fairgrounds about hosting a vaccination site there.

"We haven't concluded those yet, but we fully anticipate that we will," he said. "And, as a result, will probably be able to start offering appointments at least appointment scheduling next week with vaccinations, to be able to start taking place at, we hope, Del Mar the following week."

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky late Thursday night went against the agency’s panel of advisors and recommended COVID-19 boosters for front-line health care workers. Van Gorder said this staff has been lobbying him to get boosters, but the news didn’t go over well with everyone.

Nurse Tawny Buettner, who works at Rady Children’s Hospital, said she is against the vaccine mandate as well as the booster.

"I guess the biggest concern is that we have a politically appointed official that's making a unilateral decision against the experts on her committee concerning the vaccine booster," she said. "And so it should give everyone pause."

National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses union, however, said it applauded the CDC’s director’s decision to include health care workers.