Booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine were authorized for people 65 and older or those at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.
The emergency use authorization was amended to allow people 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease and people whose jobs put them at risk of infection to receive their booster at least six months after receiving their first two doses, according to an FDA news release.
The news comes as Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital reported its COVID-19 patient census had doubled in a week, as the hospital admitted four new COVID-19 patients in one day, from Wednesday to Thursday, for a total of 33 patients hospitalized as of Thursday, according to hospital spokesman Patrick Moody.
“We continue to strongly encourage all who are eligible to get vaccinated,” Moody said. “According to the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), vaccination is the best way to stay out of the hospital.”
Countywide, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials reported hospitalizations had dropped below 1,000 for the first time since July.
Following the announcement, California released a vaccine action plan to ensure the state and partners can meet the expected demand for boosters “on day one.”
The plan also outlines the state’s ability to administer vaccines to Californians under age 12, which is anticipated as early as next month, according to state Public Health officials.
“California continues to lead the nation in both vaccines administered and low case rates. Vaccines work. They are safe, effective, and are how we end this pandemic,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a prepared statement Thursday. “We fully support our federal partners’ determination to provide boosters, and California has built the necessary infrastructure to mobilize such vaccine distribution – all to help protect the health and well-being of Californians.”
County Public Health officials also addressed the announcement Thursday during their media briefing, sharing vaccine data that shows just 0.9% of fully vaccinated individuals in L.A. County have tested positive for COVID-19, while only 0.03% of those were hospitalized and 0.004% died.
“What we also see clearly in these numbers, week after week, is the fact that fully vaccinated people continue to be extraordinarily well protected from hospitalization and they’re very unlikely to pass away from COVID,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Out of the nearly 10.3 million L.A. County residents, including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, 66% have received at least one dose and 59% are fully vaccinated, per Public Health.
Thus far, more than 80,000 third doses have been administered countywide to immunocompromised individuals, while Ferrer said the county is prepared to administer booster doses once the CDC finalizes eligibility guidance.
County Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Thursday:
Countywide COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours: 1,900
Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,449,923
New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 32
Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 25,942
Hospitalizations countywide: 991
Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Sept. 23: 33, with 1,502 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.
COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 73, 58 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita
Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 35,371
Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Sept. 22: 330
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of Sept. 16: 76.8%
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of Sept. 16: 73.0%