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With Spike In Omicron Infections About To Converge With The Holidays, COVID-19 Booster Shots In Higher Demand

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Pharmacies are seeing a boost in business from people lining up to get their COVID-19 booster shots.

The sudden spike in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations took most of the pandemic-weary nation by surprise, even though public health officials had been urging people to get the third shot since they received emergency use authorization from the FDA back in October. Now people are scrambling to get a booster shot as the resurgence of the virus has thrown holiday plans into doubt.

A nurse marks a coronavirus vaccination card with a third "booster" dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccine clinic hosted by The Tournament of Roses and the Pasadena Public Health Department, August 19, 2021 at Tournament House in Pasadena, California. - The clinic is one of the first in the city to offer "supplemental" third Covid-19 shots to people with immunological conditions, according to organizers. President Joe Biden said August 18 he will make Covid-19 booster shots available to all American adults beginning next month, as his administration warned that vaccines are showing a declining effectiveness against infection. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Susan Germaise says she had to drive to the San Fernando Valley from the Westside because there were no booster shot appointments available close to her home.

"I am supposed to go to Florida on Saturday with my daughter and want to make sure that I keep my parents safe," she said. "It's like déjà vu all over again. We were here last year, and it's the same situation. You can't really travel, I am nervous about traveling."

Sherri Cherman, the owner of Elements Pharmacy in Studio City says they are administering about 250 booster shots a day now – which is 10 times more than they were giving out a month ago. The pharmacy has no more booster shot appointments through the holidays – but they do their best to accommodate walk-ins, and they plan to stay open through Christmas Eve, and stay busy well into the new year.

"We try to take care of everybody, and we try to keep everybody calm," Cherman said. "We have parking attendants in the parking lot right now."

Doctors and public health officials alike say getting all three shots is the best defense against serious illness from COVID-19. However, the Omicron variant is believed to be much more effective at sickening people who are fully vaccinated, and more so-called breakthrough infections are being reported this go-round.

Dr. Cameron Nouri, the emergency room medical director at Community Hospital of San Bernardino, says it takes about two weeks to get peak immunity from the booster.

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