Booster shot for COVID-19: Who might need it

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Pfizer announced Thursday night that it would seek authorization for a booster shot, claiming the shot would add protection against COVID-19 and its dangerous variants.

However, the FDA and CDC issued a joint statement not long after saying a booster shot was not in the cards yet.

“When it comes to the need for a booster, the recommendation has to come out driven on data and science and those are left up to the professionals in public health at the level of the FDA and CDC,” said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo with OhioHealth. “The decision to require a booster or recommend a booster by the FDA and CDC, not by pharmaceutical company’s scientists or CEOs.”

“We only have a year’s worth of data to know how long the original vaccines work,” said Dr. Susan Koltar with Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. “Many people have asked me personally ‘are we going to need a booster’ and my common answer is ‘I don’t honestly know.'”

Koltar believes the FDA and CDC responded appropriately to Pfizer.

“I think the hidden message in their response was – we will look at that (data) but don’t let the idea of a booster distract us from everyone getting the vaccine because we still aren’t there yet in terms of how many people have been vaccinated.”

In fact, some fully vaccinated people may not need a booster at all.

Those who do need the shot will be the most vulnerable.

“There’s a lot of scientific publications essentially showing that especially younger and healthier people, if they’re vaccinated, they have long lasting immunity that may go on for a couple years,” Gastaldo said.

“Vaccines don’t work as well the older you get, and especially those who have weakened immunocompromised conditions. So it could be that if a recommendation for a booster comes out, it may be specfically, for example, for elderly people or people with weakened immunue systems and not necessarily for younger, healthier people. We just don’t know yet.”

Another potential question about a potential booster shot – what’s in it?

“The question’s that’s not clear about booster is – is the booster truly a booster using the same components of the original vaccine or does the booster have some other extra…activity against one of the variants?” Koltar said.

Gastaldo believes Pfizer’s announcement was in preparation for a booster, if it’s needed, not an indication one would be necessary.

“Obviously when it comes to COVID-19, we want to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So at this point in time, there is no recommendation for anybody to receive a booster. Whether you received Pfizer, Moderna or J&J, you have a great layer of protection against the Delta variant,” he said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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