State officials announced their plan Thursday to roll out COVID-19 vaccine booster doses to eligible residents once they are fully approved by the federal government.
The state intends to ensure that enough doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and vaccine administrators will be available to meet demand once boosters are fully approved for people over age 65 and those at high risk to contract the virus and develop serious illness.
The state's MyTurn vaccination scheduling tool will soon add a booster vaccine eligibility screen and send alerts to state residents if they are eligible, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health.
"Along with boosting protection to those that need it and proactively reaching out to newly eligible individuals, the state will continue to focus much of our vaccination efforts on reaching the unvaccinated and encouraging them to get vaccinated to keep themselves and their community safe," state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in a statement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its approval Wednesday of an extra dose of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine for those 65 and older as well as people aged 12-64 who are at higher risk of serious illness because of some medical conditions or the nature of their job.
An advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control also gave its approval Thursday of an additional Pfizer dose for the same demographics with the exception of those at risk because of their jobs.
Once fully approved by the CDC in addition to the FDA, people eligible for booster doses will be advised to get them at least six months after getting their second dose of the vaccine.
State and federal officials have argued booster doses will be necessary for at least some people given the propensity for the high level of immunity offered by the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to reduce over time while still preventing serious illness and death.
"CDPH is working with local partners and health care providers to ensure California is ready to immediately begin administering booster doses to eligible Californians once these recommendations have been made," state Public Health Officer and CDPH Director Dr. Tomas Aragon said.
State officials also announced Thursday that they're laying the groundwork to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to children younger than 12, which are expected to be approved by federal regulators in the coming weeks.
Ghaly noted that state public health officials are also discussing a potential statewide COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students age 12 and older.
The state already requires students to get vaccinated against various illnesses, including measles, polio, chickenpox, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.