Covid Booster Rollout Begins in California With Little Fanfare

Dwona Beroit receiving a Covid-19 booster shot from Cynthia Key, a public health nurse, in Los Angeles.Credit…Alisha Jucevic for The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Gone are the days when Gov. Gavin Newsom crisscrossed the state urging Californians to roll up their sleeves for their Covid shots. Routine checks of vaccination cards to enter restaurants are a thing of the past. In downtown San Francisco, the Moscone Center, once the site of a mass vaccination clinic, has long since reverted to a convention center.

Newly formulated Covid booster shots are now available to those 12 and older, tailored to protect against both the original version of the virus and the Omicron variant. But the distribution of the new shots in California, as in much of the rest of the country, has come with little fanfare.

This quiet rollout may be an acknowledgment of how many people have moved on from the pandemic as Covid cases wane and are unlikely to be receptive to another stentorian campaign, even in the vaccine-friendly Golden State, said Bob Wachter, the chair of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “I think that there’s a little bit less oomph being put into this particular campaign than there was,” Wachter told me.

Still, plenty of people have gotten the new booster shot already. California’s public health department said it had received 2.8 million doses of the new vaccine so far, and had administered about 618,000 since Sept. 6, when it first became available.

The new shots target the Omicron subvariant BA.5, the dominant version of the virus, and are viewed by scientists as a way to guard against a surge of cases expected this winter. Experts say the boosters will offer improved protection against breakthrough infections.

In San Francisco, one of the most vaccinated parts of California, hundreds of people eagerly lined up outside doctor’s offices and clinics last week.

“I’m very pro-vaccine,” Deborah James said as she left a Kaiser clinic after getting her shot. “I think people should be protected, if they can be.”

This early in the rollout, residents seemed to be split into two camps: Those who closely follow the news, knew about the booster and were excited for the protection it offered; and those who no longer think about the pandemic and didn’t know there was a new vaccine.

In the Mission District of San Francisco, Jacqueline Guerra, 24, said she had no plans to get the bivalent booster. She got the initial Johnson and Johnson vaccine and has had Covid, but did not get the booster offered last year. She said she was concerned about what was in the vaccine and whether it could harm her 1-year-old baby, Jericoh, who is still breastfeeding.

Guerra, who works at Foot Locker, said there was only one reason she might get boosted. “If my job says that it’s mandatory, then yes, I will get it,” she said.

Wachter said he had witnessed plenty of vaccine fatigue over the last two years. The constantly shifting vaccine mandates, mask guidelines and evolving virus may have caused many people to throw up their hands, he said.

“I can completely get a person saying: ‘You know what, this is too hard. I would just rather get back to normal and let the chips fall where they fall,’” he said, adding that it was still worth getting the newest round of boosters, especially to protect against the risk of long Covid.

For more:

  • Schedule a booster appointment through the state.

  • What to know about the new boosters.

  • Check Covid case counts in your area.

  • Major data gaps, the result of decades of underinvestment in public health, have undercut the government response to the coronavirus and now to monkeypox.

Claire Arre, a marine biologist in Orange County.Credit…Gabriella Angotti-Jones for The New York Times

If you read one story, make it this

Billions in climate deal funding could help protect U.S. coastal cities.

Credit…Richard Vogel/Associated Press

The rest of the news

  • Smoking marijuana: Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would make it illegal for employers to fire, or not hire, workers because of outside-of-work marijuana use, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Human composting: California will be the fifth state to allow human composting, or natural organic reduction, as a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burial methods, The Guardian reports.

  • Cost of voting: California is the sixth easiest U.S. state to vote in.

  • Drunken driving: An investigation into a crash in Avenal in 2021 that killed nine people has prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to call for an alcohol-impairment detection system to be installed in all new cars, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • Monkeypox vaccines: After an exponential rise of monkeypox cases in early August, Los Angeles County has expanded eligibility for the vaccine and has administered more than 60,000 first doses of the vaccine, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • U.S.C.: A former dean at the University of Southern California pleaded guilty in a bribery case involving a powerful Los Angeles politician, The Associated Press reports.


  • Damages claim: The lawyer of the student who was struck by Brian Vollhardt, the former principal of Wolters Elementary, filed a claim for damages with Fresno Unified, The Fresno Bee reports.


  • Dreamforce: The mega-conference Dreamforce will be returning to San Francisco at Moscone Center with more than 40,000 people expected to attend, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • School closures: The closure of schools within the Oakland Unified School District suggests a larger political shift within the city that once was at the forefront of Black politics and culture, The Washington Post reports.

  • Homelessness: The city of Oakland spent $69 million over four years housing unsheltered people, but it has no idea if any of those nearly 9,000 people ever found permanent housing, The SFist reports.

Credit…Ryan Liebe for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

What we’re eating

Dinner in seven ingredients (or even fewer).

Credit…Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Where we’re traveling

Today’s tip comes from Joel Stevenson, who recommends the Suisun Marsh, California’s largest brackish marsh:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Tell us

It’s almost fall. What do you love about the season in California? What are the best fall activities in your corner of the state?

Email us at [email protected] with your stories, memories and recommendations.

Credit…Marissa Leshnov for The New York Times

And before you go, some good news

While growing up in Berkeley, Jasmine Guillory thought her destiny was a career in law. She graduated from Stanford Law School, then clerked for a federal judge and worked at a high-paying big law firm before moving on to legal aid and nonprofit work. Still, something was missing.

She decided to try writing. In April 2015, she joined an online writers’ challenge that prompts fledgling novelists to commit to writing 50,000 words in one month. She spent every spare moment getting words on the page. “I looked forward every day to coming home from work and sitting on the couch and writing,” she said. She hit the 50,000 mark, then kept going.

By June she had a draft of “The Wedding Date,” a flirty, funny romance novel. Upon its release in 2018, the book got glowing reviews. Later that year, her second novel spent five weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.

On Tuesday, Guillory published her eighth book. She left her day job for good a few years ago.

“I didn’t quit my legal job until I knew that I could support myself with writing,” she told The Times.

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back tomorrow.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

Soumya Karlamangla and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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