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Omicron booster shots now available in SLO County

An individual receiving a vaccination in their arm.
Christian Emmer / CEBI At Copenhagen University
An individual receiving a vaccination in their arm.

Updated Omicron Covid-19 booster vaccines are now available in San Luis Obispo County. The vaccines provide protection against the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 strains of Covid-19, as well as the original strain.

There are two updated boosters at local pharmacies and clinics: a Moderna booster for ages 18 and older, and a Pfizer booster for ages 12 and older. Residents can get an updated booster two months after completing the primary series or a previous booster dose. Children aged 5 to 11 are not eligible for the Omicron booster, but are still permitted to receive current booster vaccines.

“Similar to Influenza, what was done with this booster shot for the Covid-19 virus was looking at what the predominant strains are right now in the world and in the US, and making a vaccine that’s tailored to those particular strains,” said SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein.

According to a SLO County Health report updated this week, 68.6 percent of SLO county residents are fully vaccinated and 56.9 percent are boosted. The county has seen over 63,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 167 active cases and 9 residents hospitalized.

SLO County Daily New Cases (and 14 Day Average)
SLO County Department of Public Health
SLO County Daily New Cases (and 14 Day Average)

Although county cases have declined since they peaked in January, Borenstein said she recommends that eligible residents get the Omicron booster to prevent another spike.

“If you’re high risk and it’s been at least two months since you’ve gotten your last Covid shot, I would recommend getting it now in advance of the coming fall and winter season,” said Borenstein, “We’re anticipating we might see more virus circulating as people move indoors and gather over holidays.”

The CDC decided earlier this month to recommend eligible Americans to get the Omicron-targeting booster shot. This decision came after the FDA authorized the updated vaccines based on how well the shots stimulated the immune systems of mice and how well similar shots targeted at earlier variants worked on people.

While this is the first time the FDA has authorized a Covid vaccine without testing on people, CDC health officials say this is not a cause for concern, as flu vaccines are updated every year without human-testing.

SLO County residents can find where to get an Omicron booster by contacting their local pharmacy or healthcare provider … or by visiting VaccineFinder.orgor MyTurn.ca.gov.

KCBX Reporter Amanda Wernik graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a BS in Journalism. Amanda is currently a fellow with the USC Center for Health Journalism, completing a data fellowship that will result in a news feature series to air on KCBX in the winter of 2024.
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