SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With the recent emergence of the omicron COVID-19 variant, health officials are stressing the importance of both testing availability and getting the COVID vaccine and boosters.

The growing number of cases have also increased the demand for COVID tests, with many pharmacies selling out of home testing kits across the region.

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In January, President Biden pledged to increase the number of COVID available in the U.S. to facilitate places of employment and schools staying open. The federal government on Jan. 18th launched a website where people can request a set of four free at-home COVID tests to be mailed to them.

The government released the following statement regarding the availability of the site a day ahead of it’s scheduled Jan. 19th launch.

“Today, in alignment with website launch best practices, covidtests.gov is currently in its beta phase, which means that the website is operating at limited capacity ahead of its official launch. This is standard practice to address troubleshooting and ensure as smooth of an official launch tomorrow as possible. We expect the website to officially launch mid-morning tomorrow.”

The government has also provided an additional web page listing COVID testing resources.

Santa Clara County has also provided free tests for people who live, work or go to school in the county. The sign up for the appointments to pick up the tests is available at www.sccfreetest.org

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Bay Area counties are also ramping up test availability. Below are the corresponding links for individual Bay Area counties for testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December broadened its recommendation for COVID-19 booster shots to include all adults because of the new variant. The agency had previously approved boosters for all adults, but only recommended them for those 50 years and older or living in long-term care settings.

“Everyone ages 18 and older should get a booster shot either when they are six months after their initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after their initial J&J vaccine,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

California residents can find information on how to get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and the flu via their local public health department or the state’s vaccination scheduling website at https://myturn.ca.gov.

Below are links to county websites with information on how to sign up for vaccinations in addition to links for other pharmacies, hospitals and health care providers. The parents of children age 5-11 who became eligible in early November for a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine should note their child’s pediatrician has also been approved to administer the Pfizer child vaccine.

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Vaccination information can also be found by contacting the state by phone at (833) 422-4255.