Federal health officials Wednesday recommended that all vaccinated Americans get COVID-19 booster shots as San Diego County reported the highest level of new infections since late January.
The county Health and Human Services Agency on Tuesday reported 1,738 new infections, 11 additional hospitalizations and two more patients requiring intensive care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint statement saying booster shots are recommended after eight months “to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”
This would be a third shot for Americans who received a two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccine beginning late last year. People who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot will also likely need a booster, but that vaccine did not become available until March.
The boosters will initially be given to healthcare workers, nursing home residents and older people, among the first groups to be vaccinated, health officials said. The first shots would be administered Sept. 20.
“Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout,” the two federal agencies said. “For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”
In San Diego County in the last 30 days, 92% of COVID-19 cases have occurred in those not fully vaccinated. Of the remaining 8%, San Diego County Chief Medical Officer Eric McDonald said, few are showing symptoms and those are relatively mild.
Of all those hospitalized in the past 30 days, 98% are unvaccinated.
The Delta variant of the virus is considerably more contagious than previous strains and now comprises 95% of the virus’ genome, according to Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.
City News Service and Reuters contributed to this article.