Amid growing skepticism in the scientific community about the need for repeated boosters of the COVID-19 vaccine, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already talking about recommending a third booster in the fall.
In an interview with NJ.com, Dr. Rochelle Walensky urged 50-year-olds and people with underlying health conditions to get a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Walensky also suggested a fourth dose would be needed.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will begin meeting with CDC officials on April 6 to consider authorizing a third booster dose.
Scientists, researchers and the medical community almost universally supported efforts to get Americans vaccinated against COVID when vaccines first became available in December 2020.
However, there has been growing resistance to what some see as a potentially endless series of booster doses against a virus that does not cause severe illness in most people.
When the FDA approved the second booster dose last month, it did so at the behest of vaccine makers and without much scientific evidence to support the need for another booster.
Some renowned medical researchers say there is even less evidence to suggest that another booster is needed for otherwise healthy adults and children.
The New York Times noted that several studies have shown that the majority of people already vaccinated remain well protected against serious illnesses, even if they have not received a booster dose and even amid multiple variants of the virus that are more transmissible.
University of Washington immunologist Marion Pepper expressed concern about the short-lived nature of booster doses, telling The Times, “If this isn’t going to create a better, long-term immune response, then you you wonder a little about the value.”
Yet even researchers who question the need for a massive increase in the general population say there are exceptions.
The elderly, those with underlying health conditions and people with weakened immune systems could all benefit from the added protections of a third or fourth dose of vaccine, even if the benefits are short-lived.
In New Jersey, more than 6.8 million people have completed their primary vaccination. Less than half of this number received a booster dose. It is estimated that even fewer would return for a fourth dose.
Eric Scott is the senior policy director and anchor of New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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