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SF opens COVID-19 boosters broadly to adults to avoid winter surge

Case rates are increasing in San Francisco as the holiday season approaches and people gather and travel.

San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) is opening up COVID-19 boosters to all adults 18 years and older, provided they qualify based on timing of the previous dose of the vaccine. No one should be turned away if they feel they are at risk of COVID-19 and would like to get a booster in advance of the holiday season.

Pfizer and Moderna recipients may receive a booster six months after their second dose in alignment with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance this week to local jurisdictions for patients to self-determine their risk of exposure. Previously, per federal and state guidance only certain categories of higher risk individuals were recommended to receive a booster.

SFDPH also strongly recommends that anyone in a higher risk group – including seniors 65 and older, people with underlying medical conditions, and people who work in high-risk settings – receive a booster as soon as possible. Additionally, all Johnson & Johnson recipients should receive a booster two months after their previous dose, a criterion that remains the same.

“We are taking an expansive approach to COVID-19 boosters, realizing that people are at risk of getting COVID or spreading it as we enter the busy holiday season,” said Director of Health, Dr. Grant Colfax. “We are already seeing an uptick in cases, and that could mean hospitalization for some vulnerable people, even if they are fully vaccinated. We have been stressing that boosters are essential for higher risk individuals, but now it’s become apparent that we need many more people to receive a booster dose so that we can protect ourselves, our families and friends, and our community.”

A number of healthcare partners are providing booster vaccines, including medical offices, pharmacies, healthcare systems, and community-based organizations. Members of the public do not need to receive the booster from the same entity that provided their initial vaccine series.

While SFDPH-affiliated vaccine facilities are ready to turn no one away, health systems and pharmacies may need time to respond to the booster expansion. For example, patients may still see screening tools used during appointment bookings asking them to attest to a narrower set of eligibility criteria. As the systems are updated, people should choose the least restrictive of the criteria that applies to them. Many work and residential settings pose the risk of exposure to COVID.

More than 100,000 boosters have been administered in San Francisco since they were authorized to higher- risk groups in September. SF is averaging about 3,900 booster doses a day. Of the total administered, more than 43,000 boosters have gone to seniors ages 65 and older, bringing their rates of booster vaccinations up to more than 1 in 3. Meanwhile, more than 65,000 booster doses have been administered to residents under age 65.

SF is committed to ensuring low-barrier access to COVID-19 vaccine booster doses, just as we have with primary dose vaccinations. There are nearly 100 vaccine sites across SF where people can get a booster, and within a 10- to 15-minute walk for most people.

For more information on where to get a vaccination or booster in SF visit sf.gov/getvaccinated