COVID Vaccine (copy)

Just 28 percent of eligible Monterey County residents have received a Covid-19 booster shot so far, according to the Health Department. More people need to follow through with that third shot to help slow a new wave of Covid expected because of variants like delta and the new, more infectious omicron variant.

The boosters are "strongly recommended" for people over age 50 or with significant underlying health conditions, according to a MCHD press release sent out today, Dec. 17. Only 50 percent of fully vaccinated residents in that age group have received a booster. 

Everyone fully vaccinated age 16 and above is eligible for a Covid booster if they are at least six months out from receiving a second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months out from receiving a Johnson & Johnson.

Bay Area health officers, including Monterey County Health Officer Edward Moreno, are encouraging everyone who is eligible to get a booster. Now is the time, Moreno said in the press release.

"Evidence shows that two doses may not be enough to protect against infection with the omicron variant," Moreno said.

"Widely available via appointment or drop-in sites, boosters maintain the power of vaccines to protect against sever illness and death from Covid-19," the release states. Vaccination sites can be found at MontereyCountyCOVID19.org.

Anyone not vaccinated or fully vaccinated should get a vaccine to protect themselves, loved ones and the community, according to experts.

There have been no confirmed cases of omicron in Monterey County, but there have been cases in nearby counties. Health officials are expecting the number of Covid cases to rise, as they have already in the United Kingdom where the number of cases are higher than at any time in the two years of the pandemic.

"Evidence suggests that omicron spreads more rapidly than other variants and more is being learned every day," the release states. "Although some evidence suggests that a lower percentage of people infected with omicron may be hospitalized and die, if a surge causes many thousands of new cases per day, even a small percentage of that total entering our hospitals will overwhelm healthcare delivery systems."

Health officers also remind people to wear masks, social distance and get tested before gathering or traveling for the holidays. Testing upon return and then again three to five days later is recommended. 

Free rapid and PCR tests are readily available around the county. Go to MontereyCountyCOVID19.org for sites. Home test kits are also now more readily available from pharmacies.

Parents of very young children who have not  been vaccinated should take precautions to keep them protected. 

Currently the rate of vaccinations for eligible residents who have received at least one dose is 77 percent, 69 percent are considered "fully vaccinated" which means two doses.

The case rate in Monterey County as of Dec. 13 is 9.8 cases per 100,000 residents, up from 5 cases per 100,000 reported on Nov. 26. The case rate among unvaccinated residents is 25.8. 

Currently 21 residents are hospitalized with 4 patients in the ICU, according to state data.

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