San Diego County data on boosters shows some groups falling behind
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Who's gotten a COVID booster shot in San Diego. Well, if you're older, white, and female, you are in the highest percentage of booster recipients, but if you're a 20 something black or Latino male, you probably haven't gotten that booster shot. Yet. The statistics released by San Diego county reveal wide gaps in booster vaccinations health officials are concerned that a lack of interest in getting boosters could result in an increase in COVID cases over the holidays. Joining me is San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter, Jonathan Wilson, and Jonathan, welcome back to the
Speaker 2: (00:36)
Program. Good to talk with you.
Speaker 1: (00:38)
Now do this statistics on the booster rollout reflect what happened with the original vaccine rollout earlier this year.
Speaker 2: (00:45)
You know, they pretty much do. And that's because if you think back to the vaccine rollout early this year, actually towards the end of last year, to the people who first got an opportunity to get vaccinated, were healthcare workers, folks who were living in nursing homes, working in nursing homes, and then from then on, uh, you know, seniors and progressively that opened up to everybody else. And when you take a look at the data that San Diego county released last week, you can see that the people who tend to have gotten a booster at this point, uh, look a lot like that initial population. So about six out of every 10 people who've gotten the booster shot in the county are at least 60 years older, older, uh, about two out of every three of them are white or Asian. So if you look at that data and take a peek at it, you'll see that the people who have gotten boosters look a lot, like some of the people who first got a chance to get vaccinated early this year. And that's not really surprising because the boosters are for people who have already been vaccinated, you know, several months and into the past. At this point,
Speaker 1: (01:54)
There have been a lot of mixed messages on who needs a booster shot. And when can you give us the most recent guidance on boosters?
Speaker 2: (02:02)
Yeah. So it has been a little confusing. So what I can tell you based on what the state and county public health departments have said, is that anyone who is fully vaccinated and got their second shot of the Pfizer or maternal vaccine at least six months ago is recommended to go ahead and get a booster. Uh, if you've got the J and J vaccine, which is a one-shot vaccine at least two months ago, uh, you can also go ahead and get a booster. And this is for people who are 18 years and up. And so that's the message. That's the guidance. That's actually a lot clearer than what the centers for disease control and prevention had originally said. The CDC has actually simplified that a bit to say that anybody can get a booster if enough time has passed
Speaker 1: (02:50)
And are the low numbers of Latinos getting booster shots surprising considering the success and overall vaccinations among that population,
Speaker 2: (03:00)
As you mentioned, the Latino population in San Diego has had actually a pretty successful vaccine rollout. And that has a lot to do with what community based groups were doing. Public health workers, trusted messengers, as well as the county in terms of, uh, setting up an infrastructure and, and building trust in the vaccines too. So if you look at the percent of people who are fully vaccinated by race, it actually looks pretty good among Latinos and Hispanics as high as the rate among Asians and a bit higher than the rate among white residents. So the fact that that is not the case among people who've gotten a booster. Uh, so basically 14% of people who've gotten a booster are Hispanic or Latino. Uh, 53% give or take are, uh, are white, uh, 13% Asian, two and a half percent black, and we can sort of go from there. So that was a little surprising. It might reflect to some degree that the vaccination rates among Latinos didn't really pick up until a few months into the vaccine rollout when all of these community-based efforts got off the ground. Uh, but it could also, you know, also reflect other things like general confusion around whether you could or couldn't get boosters. As you mentioned, there's been some mixed messaging there. Uh, it is a little bit surprising because those numbers aren't higher than, than what they are
Speaker 1: (04:27)
In a companion article in today's UT there's a report on the lagging percentage of blacks and native Americans in San Diego who have gotten any COVID vaccinations. It finds that just 46% of blacks and 51% of native Americans have begun the vaccination process. And the article says a lack of trust in government is to blame for the disparity. Is that also keeping the same populations away from boosters?
Speaker 2: (04:56)
I mean, basically, yes, because to get a booster, you have to have been fully vaccinated at least, you know, two months ago for the J and J vaccine or six months ago for Maduro or Pfizer. So to the extent that black residents and native American residents in the county are less likely to have been vaccinated to begin with, they're also less likely to be eligible to be getting boosters. So there's sort of a follow on effect where, you know, people who weren't really reached by the initial vaccine rollout are at risk. And they're also continuing to be at risk too, because you know, they are underrepresented among the folks that have gotten boosters. So that that's definitely some of the trust issues that were initially, there are having consequences as we go further and further into this pandemic.
Speaker 1: (05:46)
And the data shows there's a gap in people 80 and over getting their boosters. And that's a concern for health officials. Isn't it?
Speaker 2: (05:54)
It is because when you look at COVID data and this has been pretty apparent since the very beginning, early 20, 20, uh, older adults have always been at highest risk. So, you know, upwards of 80, 85% of people who died of COVID 19 in this country have been at least 65 years old, local data back that up as well. Many of the people who died in San Diego have been 80 and up, uh, the fact that they don't represent as much of the booster recipient population as other groups residents. So basically 12% of people who've gotten a booster or 80 and up, uh, compared to 26% among people, 70 to 79. And, uh, you know, people who are home bound for example, and that, that often includes older residents are going to be less likely to be able to go to a pharmacy or healthcare provider or some other vaccine sites. So that may be part of the issue. People who are in that situation can call 2, 1, 1 to have vaccine actually brought to them. Uh, but, but we are seeing a bit of a concerning disparity in terms of age as well.
Speaker 1: (07:01)
I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter, Jonathan Wilson, Jonathan. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (07:07)
You're very welcome. Thank you.
Those who've gotten a COVID-19 booster shot in San Diego County tend to be older and white, according to data released by the county last week.
This has raised concerns about Black and Latino residents being underrepresented in those who have received a booster.
San Diego Union-Tribune biotech reporter Jonathan Wosen joined Midday Edition Monday to break down the latest local data on boosters, as well as to add clarity on who is now eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. Anyone 18 years of age and older can get the booster if it has been at least 2 months since they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and at least six months since they received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Wosen also talked about the concerning gap in those 80 years of age and over getting their boosters.
"People who are home-bound, for example, and that often includes older residents, are going to be less likely to be able to go to a pharmacy or health care provider, or some other vaccine site, so that may be part of the issue," he said.
He said home-bound residents can call 211 to get a vaccine brought to them.