The Issue Is: Dr. Mark Ghaly and Carla Marinucci


With the FDA granting emergency authorization to the Pfizer shot for children 5-11, and Governor Newsom receiving his booster, it’s been a big week on the vaccine front.

With those headlines in mind, and fears of another possible holiday surge, Elex Michaelson is joined on The Issue Is by Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services Secretary.

Also this week, the comedy duo "The Good Liars" on their new political mock-umentary "The Supporters," and a tribute to friend-of-the-show, Politico’s Carla Marinucci, who, after a 40-year career covering California politics, announced she is heading on sabbatical.



BACKGROUND: Now that a kid-sized dose of the Pfizer vaccine has been granted emergency authorization for children aged 5-11, should the vaccine be mandated, or should inoculation be a voluntary decision for parents and guardians?

DR. GHALY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "As a pediatrician, I often say, well, let's talk about it, let's answer the questions that you might have about this vaccine, or any other vaccine, or any treatment… We want to make sure people have the information to move forward with confidence. I remind them that we have a number of vaccines that are required today for schools, and that in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, we know that COVID, although kids aren't dying at the same rate as adults, and thank God for that, but that it still has significant impacts... So we believe that this is a vaccine that is going to not just help us reduce the risk of losing another child life, but really the long term consequences of impacts of COVID, that we yet to truly understand and see, could be reduced and prevented. And so we're waiting till full FDA approval, and we're going to work hard to make sure that a lot of young people get their questions answered, their families get questions answered, and well before it's mandated that we're seeing a lot of California's kids get vaccinated…"



BACKGROUND: This week, Ghaly and Governor Newsom received their booster shots, doses of the Moderna vaccine. This, after both began their vaccine regimen with doses of the Johnson and Johnson shot. As boosters are now administered, what does Ghaly make of the practice of mixing-and-matching vaccinations?

DR. GHALY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Mixing and matching is not a new concept - we do that with a lot of vaccines already… frankly, we often don't know the manufacturer of the vaccine that we're receiving, what we do know is what it's preventing in terms of the infections that we give it... Better or worse, a little bit of uncertainty and still things to learn, but, for me, the decision was really based on use different modalities, really challenge my immune system to boost it up significantly so I feel as secure as I can be out in the community at the events that I have the privilege of going to and then, of course, over the holidays… I think some people feel really comfortable because they had a good experience with one type, and they don't want to potentially have a side effect, miss a few days of work, have a high fever, or some pain at the site, and they know what they know and they like it, and that's totally supported as well…"



BACKGROUND: To date, more than three-quarters of Californians have received at least a single dose of COVID vaccines. As the state approaches, and passes, the number of people thought necessary to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, what will it take for masking and other state guidelines to be eased?

DR. GHALY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It's tremendous what we've done on vaccinations, but we still have a significant number of susceptible Californians, people who may have been vaccinated, who are at high risk - so older Californians who were vaccinated early in the campaign, who now need to, and should, get a booster shot to have that protection. So, as we slowly but surely move into this really exciting holiday season where it's a little colder, people gather indoors, Halloween's coming up and then we go right into Thanksgiving and other winter holidays, keeping some of the really well-proven protective mitigating strategies, like keeping masks on in certain settings, is something that's going to be important for the next couple of months. And then as we always have been, reevaluate, look at the data, and do what we can to make sure that the benefits of vaccine, the strength of this incredible miracle to protect our state, really pays off for Californians. And when we can safely lift masks in schools or other settings, we intend to…"


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to