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On First Day Pfizer's Booster Available For Eligible Adults In LA County, Few Have Turned Up For The Shot

VAN NUYS (CBSLA) - On the first evening that the Pfizer booster shot was available to some residents of LA County, staff at a Van Nuys clinic said they were busier administering COVID-19 tests than they were giving out third doses of the vaccine.

Mybelth Chavez, a healthcare worker, is a member of several groups now eligible for the booster shot. The Van Nuys resident hasn't yet gotten her third shot because she only recently got fully vaccinated.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends people don't get the Pfizer booster until six months after full vaccination.

"I feel like it's the best thing for you, if you want COVID to go away," Chavez said. "I'm planning to get it in about five months."

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel's recommendation came Thursday and included eligibility for adults 65 and older, as well as people 18-64 with underlying health conditions, though it did not include eligibility for frontline workers.

CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, on Friday said frontline workers will now be included among those eligible for the Pfizer booster.

"In an effort to protect those at greatest risk, our initial vaccine rollout prioritized these individuals, the everyday heroes of our society. Our health care systems are once again at maximum capacity in parts of the country. Our teachers are facing uncertainty as they are walking into the classroom, and I must do what I can to preserve the health across our nation," Dr. Walensky said.

National Nurses United, the largest national union for nurses, applauded the decision.

"Frontline workers need to be first in line because of our exposure to the virus and also our prolonged connectivity with our patients," said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, a registered nurse and president of NNU. "So that when we're there, front and center, up close and personal with our patients, we will be protected."

The White House is also urging millions of Americans who are eligible for the booster to get it.

"Listen to the voice of the unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds," President Joe Biden said.

The booster shots are available for eligible adults anywhere the Pfizer vaccine is provided. Unlike the crush of people and long lines when the COVID-19 vaccines were first available, however, many clinics had no lines and even a shortage of people seeking the Pfizer booster Friday.

As for Chavez, she said her family is still trying to convince their grandmother to get vaccinated.

"She had COVID and she was very sick. She was in the hospital," Chavez said.

Moderna is in the process of seeking FDA authorization for a booster and Johnson & Johnson is expected to do the same.

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