Saturday, December 4

UCLA offers COVID-19 vaccine booster to eligible staff, initiates distribution plan

UCLA is holding a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot clinic through Sunday at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in addition to a second location at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. Individuals may receive a booster shot if they are part of an eligible group and if they received their second dose of the vaccine at least six months ago. (Daily Bruin file photo)

This post was updated Oct. 28 at 12:13 a.m.

UCLA began offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots Oct. 15 for eligible faculty and staff.

The two booster shot events, scheduled to run through Sunday, are located in the basement level of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and the auditorium at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, according to an Oct. 13 announcement by UCLA. Individuals who are eligible and originally received the Pfizer vaccine may either walk in or make appointments through UCLA Health.

Currently, eligible groups include anyone age 65 or older, adults in long-term care facilities, adults with underlying medical conditions and adults working or living in settings where they would be at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Individuals must also wait at least six months after receiving their second dose to receive the booster shot.

The event was busier than expected, said Cheyenne Sanchez, a nurse working at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center event. The on-site pharmacy was working around the clock to prepare enough vaccine doses to accommodate the number of walk-in patients, she added.

UCLA first notified employees of the vaccination events Oct. 6, following a Sept. 24 announcement by the CDC recommending booster shots for eligible groups to bolster protection against the virus.

[Related: UCLA may require booster shots for COVID-19 vaccine, awaits FDA authorization]

Matthew Serrano, a UCLA lab technician in pathology and laboratory medicine, said he received his booster shot after working in the hospital and witnessing how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the people around him.

“I think it’s a way for me to protect not only myself but my co-workers as well,” Serrano said.

Hailey Lee, a molecular and medical pharmacology graduate student, said at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center event that she got her booster shot to better protect herself against the spread of more infectious COVID-19 variants like the delta variant.

“As a researcher, I have a lot of faith in the mRNA vaccine,” said Lee, who works in a lab that studies the technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. “It’s become apparent that we do need to have another boost.”

A third dose of the Pfizer vaccine was more than 95% effective at reducing the number of COVID-19 cases in the boosted versus non-boosted group, according to a Pfizer press release Oct. 21.

The Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center also began offering the Pfizer booster shot Oct. 15, said UCLA spokesperson Katherine Alvarado in an emailed statement. She added that the Ashe Center has only administered a small number of boosters as most students are not yet eligible for additional doses.

While the events were meant for the administration of the Pfizer booster shot only, the CDC has since extended its recommendation for booster shots to all three available vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, according to an Oct. 21 announcement from the CDC.

Vaccinated individuals must wait until at least six months after their second Moderna dose or at least two months after their J&J vaccine to receive their booster shot.

UCLA will announce information on booster shot availability for students who received the Moderna and J&J vaccines as soon as the Ashe Center finalizes a plan created with help from public health authorities and others in the University of California system, Alvarado said.

Sanchez added that people with questions about the booster shot should seek advice from their doctors.

Liang Wang, a postdoctoral researcher in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, said that although he already feels well-protected with just two vaccine doses, he would feel safer if he knew people around him had also received a booster shot.

Lee said she encourages people to get a booster shot as soon as they are eligible.

“I would say do this for your personal protection,” she said.

Contributing reports from Constanza Montemayor and Maanas Oruganti, Daily Bruin staff.

Follow all of our coronavirus coverage here
Science and Health editor

Li is the 2021-2022 science and health editor. She was previously a contributor for the science and health beat. She is also a third-year human biology and society student at UCLA who enjoys writing about research and public health.

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.