California, Colorado and NM expand virus booster access

Nov 12, 2021, 5:21 PM | Updated: Nov 14, 2021, 9:11 am
FILE - Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a news conference about Colorado offering coronaviru...

FILE - Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a news conference about Colorado offering coronavirus vaccinations to children, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Denver. Infection rates have soared in Colorado over the past month, and Polis signed an executive order on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, to expand the use of booster shots to quell the recent surge in COVID-19 infections. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is among three U.S. states now allowing coronavirus booster shots for all adults even though federal health officials recommend limiting doses to those considered most at risk.

The nation’s most populous state, along with Colorado and New Mexico, instituted their policies to try to head off a feared surge around the end-of-year holidays when more people are gathering inside.

Colorado and New Mexico have among the nation’s highest rates of new infections, while California — lowest in the nation earlier this fall — now joins them in the “high” tier for transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order Friday expanding eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots. Her state health department’s acting secretary, Dr. David Scrase, said rising case numbers have some hospitals in New Mexico overwhelmed.

“COVID-19 is incredibly opportunistic and it’s our job to ensure that the virus has fewer and fewer opportunities to spread,” Scrase said. “If it’s time for you to get a booster, please do so right away.”

President Joe Biden’s administration had sought approval for boosters for all adults, but U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers in September decided it isn’t clear that young healthy people need another dose. They instead recommended boosters only for those over 65 and younger people with certain underlying health conditions or whose jobs are high risk for the virus.

In California, state Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón sent a letter to local health officials and providers saying they should “allow patients to self-determine their risk of exposure.”

“Do not turn a patient away who is requesting a booster” if they are age 18 and up and it has been six months since they had their second Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two months since their single Johnson & Johnson shot, he wrote.

He told pharmacies to prioritize boosters to those in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities due to waning immunity from the earlier shots. But generally, providers “should not miss any opportunity” to give vaccines to the unvaccinated or boosters to everyone else anytime they visit a drug store, hospital or medical office.

Many states are now experiencing rising cases and more hospitalizations. Nationwide in the last week there were about 73,000 new cases daily, roughly 10,000 more than three weeks ago.

In Colorado, where some hospitals are stretched to the breaking point, Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order on Thursday to expand use of booster shots. A day later he had a dire warning for the roughly 20% of eligible people in his state who have yet to get a single dose.

“We wouldn’t even be here talking about this if everyone was vaccinated,” the Democratic governor said at a news conference. “If you are not vaccinated, you’re going to get COVID. Maybe this year, maybe next year.”

Officials in Colorado, California and New Mexico said they have ample supplies of vaccines to provide initial vaccinations and boosters to all who want them.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said the Biden administration continues to advise health leaders across the country “to abide by public health guidelines coming from the federal government.”

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly earlier in the week said California’s decision doesn’t conflict with federal guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was “very clear that they had two categories — groups that should get a booster and groups that may.” he said.

“We know that a number of Californians work in crowded public settings,” Ghaly said. “Because of your work-related risk or even you live with people who have underlying conditions (and) are at higher risk themselves, or you’re a member of a community that’s been ravished and hard-hit by COVID … it’s permissive by the CDC and the FDA to go ahead and get the booster.”

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a professor of epidemiology at University of California, San Francisco, said boosters have lagged. That’s worrisome as winter approaches and the highly contagious delta variant, which caused a summer spike, continues to circulate.

The delta variant is “really good at finding people, including people who got vaccinated at the beginning of the year and now that vaccination is wearing off a little bit,” she said. “Delta is a powerful force and everybody needs that third dose.”


Associated Press writers Jim Anderson in Denver, Susan Montoya in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Boiling chemical on rail car forces evacuation in California

PERRIS, Calif. (AP) — A section of a major Southern California freeway was shut down and 170 homes were under evacuation orders Friday as a chemical reaction inside a railroad tank car threatened to cause an explosion, authorities said. The tank car was parked on a spur off a main rail line along Interstate 215 […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Supporters of a proposal that would add South Carolina to a list of states calling for a U.S...
Associated Press

Conservative push to alter Constitution focuses on primaries

DENVER (AP) — The fliers piled up in mailboxes in central South Dakota like snow during a high-plains blizzard: “Transgender Sex Education in Schools?” one asked. “Vote Against Sex Ed Radical Mary Duvall for State Senate.” The mailers were part of a $58,000 campaign against the five-term Republican lawmaker, an enormous sum of money in […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Idaho Supreme Court won’t block strict abortion bans

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s strict abortion bans will be allowed to take effect while legal challenges over the laws play out in court, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled on Friday. A doctor and a regional Planned Parenthood affiliate sued the state earlier this year over three anti-abortion laws, all of which were designed to […]
17 hours ago
In this photo from Friday, July 8, 2022, a sign in a yard in Olathe, Kansas, promotes a proposed am...
Associated Press

Kansas to recount abortion vote, despite large margin

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ elections director says the state will go along with a request for a hand recount of votes from every county after last week’s decisive statewide vote affirming abortion rights, even though there was a 165,000-vote difference and a recount won’t change the result. Melissa Leavitt, of Colby in far western […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

US man sentenced to 18 years for deadly migrant boat trip

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge sentenced a San Diego man to 18 years in prison Friday for piloting a small vessel overloaded with 32 migrants that smashed apart in powerful surf off San Diego’s coast last year, killing three people. U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino called it “the most egregious case I’ve […]
17 hours ago
FILE - Actress Anne Heche poses for a portrait to promote the film, "The Last Word" during the Sund...
Associated Press

Anne Heche remains on life support for donor evaluation

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anne Heche remains on life support and under evaluation for organ donation after a car crash that led to her brain death, a representative for the actor said Friday. Under current California law, death can be determined by the loss of all brain function and in accordance with accepted medical standards. […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
California, Colorado and NM expand virus booster access