UVA doctor explains why Pfizer advisors do not recommend booster shots for all

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Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - With COVID-19 cases near levels of last Thanksgiving, some people want extra armor in the form of a booster shot.

“Pfizer has data that the vaccine efficacy drops from 90% protection down to about 60 or 70% protection 6 months later,” said Dr. Bill Petri, a UVA physician.

This drop opens the door to the idea of COVID-19 booster shots. The initial vaccines intend to lessen symptoms when a person is infected. Boosters are designed to go a step further.

“It’s trying to keep people from even having symptoms of COVID by giving them a boost,” Petri said.

It’s not clear yet, if the booster shot is the best choice for everyone.

“Pfizer applied for permission to the FDA to give a booster 5 to 6 months after the original two shot of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine,” Petri said.

The American Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) is hesitant to allow boosters for everyone.

“The FDA has an advisory committee that is independent of Pfizer and independent of the federal government, it’s called the ACIP,” said Dr. Petri.

He says the ACIP recommends reserving booster shots for those who think they think would benefit most.

Dr. Petri says this is because the clinical studies to understand how the vaccine effects different demographics are still ongoing.

“The first rule of medicine is first do no harm so we want to make sure everything is safe before recommending it,” said Dr. Petri.

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