One week later, few have received a second COVID-19 booster in San Diego County

About 14,000 San Diego County residents have received a second booster shot for COVID-19 since the federal government approved them for people 50 and older early last week.

Although an additional 5,000, most with compromised immune systems or on doctor’s orders, received the fourth vaccine before general approval on March 29, early figures show the region hasn’t been in much of a rush to line up for another flu shot. coronavirus despite government records that do. it will also bolster waning immunity.

Federal second booster approval is for anyone age 50 and older who has been at least four months since their first booster shot. That’s nearly 471,000 people in the entire region, the county said in an email Thursday. After the first week of approval, counting those who received additional shots early for medical reasons, only 4 percent of those eligible so far have received a second booster.

And, for the moment, there seems to be little concern that a tidal wave of demand is about to hit.

Local health care providers, nonprofit groups and the county health department are reporting an overall decline in demand for tests and vaccines as the pandemic results in fewer cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Of course, it’s still early. It’s only been a week since the second boosters became available to so many, and healthcare providers are still drawing up their outreach plans for patients who qualify for the double booster.

Chris Van Gorder, CEO of Scripps Health, said Thursday that plans are underway to offer shots and boosters at some of the provider’s Health Express clinics.

“At this point, I would be speculating, but I think demand will be good in the 60+s and modest at best in the 50s and 60s,” Van Gorder said in an email. “However, if we start to see a rise in BA.2 or see another variant, demand will increase significantly.”

BA.2, the closely related sub-variant of the Omicron variant, seems to be steadily outperforming its predecessor. Helix, a San Diego-based national testing company, recently found that 75% of coronavirus samples that underwent genetic sequencing the week of March 27 were BA.2, compared to 71% the week of March 20 and 51% of the week of March 13. .

The county announced Wednesday that it is changing its local testing and vaccination strategy in response to lower demand.

Dr. Denise Foster, chief nursing officer for the county, said that while county and state-run testing sites were handling about 55,000 tests per week last winter with the Omicron rollout, recent averages are around 6,000. Vaccination has seen a similar decline, especially since 90 percent of residents are vaccinated by their health provider or at a pharmacy.

“In some places, demand has dried up almost completely, while others have slowed down but still have some activity,” Foster said.

He said the idea is to keep resources in areas where vaccination rates are known to be lower or where fewer health care resources are accessible, especially for those without health insurance.

As of Wednesday, the total number of government-sponsored testing sites has been reduced from 25 to 18, with two more set to close on April 30. The county also plans to close full-time vaccination operations at the County Operations Center in Kearny Mesa and the county’s Educational Cultural Complex in southeast San Diego on April 30 and April 16, respectively.

However, the net effect will be an increase in the number of county-run vaccination sites. While some will be closed, coronavirus vaccines will be added to the capacities of the county’s six major public health clinics, which served as the main locations for vaccines of all kinds before the pandemic hit in 2020. The plan will also is to increase the number of mobile vaccination clinics, including repurposing a mobile library to go from three or four mobile clinics a week to seven or eight.

“We’ve learned that being in the right place at the right time with trusted messengers and nurses, that mobile model really works well and we want to keep using it,” Foster said.

A complete list of county and state-run locations offering vaccination and testing is available at coronavirus-sd.com or by calling 211.

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