Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody and California public health officials are again leading the effort to minimize the ongoing COVID-19 threat.

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Cody announced Wednesday that the county would provide boosters to any adult, regardless of their age or health status. She called it an interpretation of the federal guidance that seemed to call for booster shots for only people 65 and older, in poor health or in high-risk work settings. California officials took a similar step Thursday when they urged that state vaccination providers give booster shots to any adult who wants one.

The shift in strategy is welcome. All Bay Area counties and vaccination providers should follow suit. Californians need the strongest protection available against the Delta variant as case rates rise again in advance of the upcoming holidays.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview Friday that booster vaccines would become an “absolutely essential component” of the fight against the pandemic. It’s “not a bonus, not a luxury, but an absolutely essential part of the program,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a New York Times “The Daily” podcast.

Fauci cited data from Israel that showed booster shots are necessary to fight off the waning effects that people experience after having been vaccinated for six months or more.

Cody said that only 20% of Santa Clara County residents who are six months past their Pfizer or Moderna shot or two months past their Johnson & Johnson shot have gotten boosters. And only 1 in 3 Californians age 65 or older have gotten a booster vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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President Biden announced in August a plan that would enable all vaccinated Americans to get booster shots once they are eight months past their initial shots. Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics science at the University of Washington, maintains that “the science is telling us we need three doses to be protected.”

Public health officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin counties said that they were adhering to their interpretation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that restricts access to booster shots. So are vaccination providers such as Walgreens, CVS and Sutter Health.

They should adopt the advice from California’s top public health officials.

Convincing the unvaccinated to get their shots should remain California’s highest priority in the battle against the pandemic. The vaccines are safe and provide the best available tool to fight against COVID-19.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly noted Thursday that vaccinated people are five times less likely to catch COVID-19 and 20 times less likely to die from it.

Getting vaccinated or obtaining the added protection of a booster shot in advance of Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday gatherings is the wisest course of action available to Bay Area and California residents.