FDA, CDC panels back booster shots for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 3:45 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:12 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The FDA and a CDC advisory group have approved the COVID-19 vaccine booster for certain groups.

Currently the approval for the booster shots is just for those people most at risk, age 65 and older, those with underlying health conditions and those most exposed to the virus, like healthcare workers in hospitals and nursing homes.

Studies show the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness wanes after six months or so. Doctors said that means certain groups of people will need a third shot to boost their immunity against COVID.

“People who have weakened immune systems the thought is because of the weakened immune system they can’t produce as strong as a response against COVID 19,” Dr. Wesley Willeford, infectious diseases at Jefferson County Department of Health, said.

After vaccines were authorized a third shot was considered not necessary but that has changed. “We have to get the immune system booster quickly and now we are discovering the immunity has started to wane about let’s call it six months to a year. So a booster will be necessary,” Dr. Michael Saag, UAB Infectious Diseases, said.

Healthcare workers in hospitals and in nursing homes will also be eligible to receive booster shots. “The vaccine is robust, but if you are exposed to it over and over again the chances of a breakthrough infection do go up,” Willeford said.

Willeford said they want those workers to continue to operate effectively and safely. Saag reminded everyone a booster shot will be approved eventually for everyone. “We are going to probably need a booster after this. Maybe a year from now after the third. We ought to kind of anticipate that,” Saag said.

Moderna and Johnson and Johnson’s booster approval for this group is also expected in the weeks to come.

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