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California opens COVID-19 booster shots to all adults

While federal guidelines currently limit the booster to certain at-risk groups, state leaders say that anyone 18 and older can now receive it.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As COVID-19 case rates start to edge upward throughout the country, here in California, it is now even easier to access a COVID booster shot.   

While federal guidelines currently limit the booster to certain at-risk groups, state leaders say that anyone 18 and older can now receive it.

As winter approaches, COVID case rates nationwide are beginning to increase, prompting fears of a "fifth wave" of coronavirus, and making the booster shot for those already vaccinated even more important.

"It is a good idea," said Dr. Samer Khodor, chief medical officer at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

He is encouraged by the state of California's move to make COVID booster shots available to all adults, regardless of age, medical condition or risk status.

"Immunity wears off after a while," Dr. Khodor told News 8. "And we want to make sure that people who are protected are really protected,"

Californians who have had their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine shot at least six months ago, or their Johnson and Johnson shot two months ago, are eligible.

"If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you to go out and get it," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, "Supply is available."

Medical experts say that getting a different booster from your original vaccine is not a problem.

Also, for the Moderna booster, half the dosage of the original vaccine provides effective protection, according to medical experts.

"Now, if someone is immuno-compromised, they're going to get the regular dose of Moderna," said Dr. Khodor. "But for most people getting just a booster, they have determined that they really don't need more than half that dose,"

"Last year we had a challenging winter, especially down here in Southern California," said Governor Gavin Newsom.

Newsom warned that it was around this time last year that California, as well as the rest of the country, saw an increase in COVID case numbers and positivity rates, as well as in hospitalization rates and ICU numbers, "and we're starting to see that now all across the globe," Newsom added.

Even more alarming: the rising number of flu cases we've seen in the last few weeks.

"If we have an average flu season this year on top of a swell of COVID cases, which I'm pretty sure we're going to see, that could stress our health care system," said Dr. John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert and professor at UC Berkeley.

This underlines the importance of being protected against COVID and the flu, especially we head into the holiday season with large family gatherings.

"The best way really to protect your loved ones is to protect yourself," said Dr. Khodor.

He also added that it is safe to get your flu shot at the same time as your COVID booster or vaccine.

For more information on how to schedule either or both, click here

WATCH RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine now offered at San Diego Unified schools via mobile vaccine unit (November 2021)

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