Updated: July 12, 2021 06:17 PM
Created: July 12, 2021 05:31 PM
Confusion seems to be growing over whether a COVID-19 booster shot will be needed down the line as drugmakers and top U.S. health officials seem to be at odds on what to do next.
Pfizer had a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to discuss its request for authorization of a third dose. Last week, the pharmaceutical company said early data from a recent study shows a booster shot could increase antibody levels up to tenfold.
They said evidence supports a third dose six to 12 months after the second dose to increase protection against all variants, such as the highly contagious delta variant spreading across the country.
But within hours of that announcement, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement saying, "Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time."
"I'm really confused about it. I wish there would be more information so people could make better decisions about that. I'm very confused," said Richard Bokovoy, of Shoreview.
Doctors in Minnesota told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are getting an increasing number of questions from patients about whether they will need booster shots.
"I realize that living and operating in the unknown is frustrating for so many people," said Dr. John Misa, an internal medicine physician and clinical officer at Allina Health. "But that has really been a storyline throughout the COVID pandemic is that we're learning as we go."
Misa said he is not surprised that federal health agencies are pushing back on Pfizer's request.
"I'm not surprised by this at all. This is Pfizer saying, 'Look, we think it's time for a booster and we can make that booster even more targeted at delta,'" Misa said. "That might all be very true. And the CDC and FDA are saying, 'Yes, and we need to look at this a little more closely and get a little bit more data before we can make the recommendation for the country.'"
He said he urges his patients to keep an open mind about the possibility of COVID-19 booster shots in the future.
"Standby," Misa said. "We are going to learn, is a booster shot necessary? Perhaps. I wouldn't be surprised if that is the case. When that needs to happen and how that will happen is still yet to be determined. We may be lining up for regular booster shots for COVID just the way we do for influenza. Each influenza vaccine that comes out is tailored to whatever the predominant strain is that season and that very well may look like our COVID vaccine future."
For now, Minnesotans who have been fully vaccinated should be reassured that their immunizations are effective, he said.
"Our current regimens are very, very effective at preventing serious COVID illness, even against the emerging variants, like the delta variant," Misa said.
The FDA will make the decision on whether to grant Pfizer's request for emergency use authorization for a third dose.
"I'm waiting and wondering," Bokovoy said. "That's a good way to put it. I think we might be waiting a long time though."
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