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Orange County offering COVID-19 vaccine booster for Moderna and J&J recipients

Rommel Hernandez, left, talks to Saul Garcia, dressed as Jesus, at Golden West College on Wednesday.
Rommel Hernandez, left, talks to Saul Garcia, dressed as Jesus, while he waits to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster at Golden West College on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Orange County has begun offering COVID-19 vaccination booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, county health officials announced on Monday.

The booster shots are available only to certain population groups in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Western States Scientific and Safety Review Workgroup.

It is recommended that seniors and adults in long-term care facilities, as well as those who are at least 50 years of age with underlying health conditions who took Moderna for their initial vaccine series receive a booster after a period of at least six months.

Those between the ages of 18 and 49 with underlying medical conditions, plus adults who are at increased risk of coronavirus exposure and transmission at their place of work or residence, may also receive a booster shot six months after their initial Moderna vaccine series.

Siblings Anna Kuner and Ruben Verdugo wait for 15 minutes after getting their COVID-19 vaccine booster at a clinic.
Siblings Anna Kuner and Ruben Verdugo wait for 15 minutes after getting their COVID-19 vaccine booster at a clinic at Golden West College on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

For adults that received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, health officials recommend a booster shot at least two months after being administered the initial dose.

In an announcement Friday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup — which consist of medical field experts from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — affirmed its approval for “mix-and-match” booster shots.

This means that a person who qualifies for a booster shot may receive any FDA-approved vaccine, as opposed to being restricted to the vaccine they were first administered.

“California is leading the nation in vaccinations, with 52 million administered and 86% of the eligible population having received at least one dose,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement Friday. “Today’s Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup recommendation on booster shots will help keep the momentum going as we enter the winter months.

“Through our investments in targeted outreach and robust community-based partnerships, our work continues to reach the hardest-hit communities. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic. I encourage all eligible Californians to visit myturn.ca.gov to schedule an appointment for their first dose or find a booster shot to keep themselves and their community healthy.”

Huntington Beach City Councilman Dan Kalmick waits for 15 minutes after getting the COVID-19 vaccine booster at a clinic.
Huntington Beach City Councilman Dan Kalmick waits for 15 minutes after getting the COVID-19 vaccine booster at a clinic on the Golden West College campus on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The workgroup previously recommended a booster dose for Pfizer vaccine recipients in at-risk groups (seniors and adults with underlying health conditions) that were at least six months removed from their initial vaccine series.

Orange County residents can check with their local pharmacy regarding vaccine availability. Appointments can be scheduled by going to vaccines.gov, myturn.ca.gov or othena.com. The vaccines are free.

Transportation to a vaccine clinic and home appointments are also available to those who need them.

Upon filling out the questionnaire assessing an individual’s eligibility to receive the vaccine, a list of nearby locations offering vaccine appointments will be provided.

A man waits in line at a clinic at Golden West College for a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Orange County Health Care Agency provided a free mobile vaccination clinic at Golden West College on Wednesday afternoon.

Huntington Beach City Councilman Dan Kalmick was among those who visited the clinic to receive an additional vaccine dose. He said that he was ready to “jump at” the chance to afford himself and his family additional protection.

“I got the vaccine,” Kalmick said. “I’m a public official, and so I’m around more people than I’d be comfortable with normally. I have a 2-year-old daughter who can’t get vaccinated yet, so I’m trying to take as much precautions as I can.”

Anna Kuner of Westminster said that she came to the clinic with a couple of relatives after her daughter contracted COVID-19 while on tour with her rock band YYNOT in New York.

“My daughter came back with COVID, so we just decided as soon as we got out of quarantine, we were going to come and get the booster because we all didn’t get COVID from her,” Kuner said. “We’re just being grateful and coming and getting the boosters.”

Signs on the campus of Golden West College direct people to a COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Wednesday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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