Bivalent COVID-19 boosters being administered in Santa Barbara County

booster shots
Posted at 4:09 PM, Sep 23, 2022

This month, thousands of bivalent COVID-19 booster doses will be distributed among Santa Barbara County's many pharmacies and health care centers.

Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg says while the demand for booster vaccines often varies based on age or pre-existing conditions, he recommends that everyone eligible should receive this updated booster for added protection before the holiday season.

"I have had two boosters, I guess it was," said Don King, who lives in Orcutt. "Because I got the first two shots, and then I had two more."

The CDC recommends that everyone 12-years-old and older receive an updated bivalent booster, which is intended to target both the original coronavirus strain as well as the Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5.

"It is very important and a good improvement of the old booster," Dr. Ansorg said. "It actually stimulates the immune response to this new Omicron version."

"My wife said we will come back in a couple weeks to get the other booster," King said.

Recent data shows that to date, less than 2% of people eligible for the shot in the U.S. have actually received it. Some locals we spoke with also said they are in no rush for another dose.

"Not unless I have to. If I need to travel and have to be boosted or have a doctor's appointment that requires it," said Orcutt resident Gay Courtright.

A representative with the United Ag Health Clinic said the bivalent doses would be arriving at their Santa Maria location next week. They also said that those doses would be reserved for specific ag industry workers in Santa Maria, however, and that a public, community vaccination event was in the works for the near future.

But the question remains, is it possible to receive too many shots? Dr. Ansorg says yes.

"There is a maximum. Right now this bivalent booster is only approved for one time and we don't know what the future holds. Hopefully there will not be a need for more than boosting once a year," he stated.

Bivalent COVID-19 boosters are already being offered at the Walker Medical Wellness Center off Clark Avenue in Orcutt.

Dr. Ansorg says that as of now, there is no timeframe for when bivalent boosters will be authorized for children under 12-years-old. He also says the new doses are interchangeable between brands, so if you received Moderna shots for your initial vaccines, you are welcome to get Pfizer for the bivalent booster.

There is no current information on the percentage or number of people in Santa Barbara County who have received the new bivalent doses. County health officials also say you can receive the bivalent booster at the same time as your flu shot.

For information on boosters available in San Luis Obispo County, click here.