When will you need a COVID booster shot? Midstate doctor explains

Vaccinate PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — On Friday an FDA panel will meet to discuss COVID booster shots. It’s been a topic of controversy in the medical community.

Dr. John Goldman, an infectious disease physician with UPMC, says that’s because we don’t have a lot of information about how these boosters work.

“There is a little bit of controversy. There are some people for example, in the FDA who think there isn’t enough data to recommend booster shots right now,” Goldman said.

That’s causing some uncertainty in the medical community.

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“I can look anyone in the eye and tell them I’m absolutely sure that you should get your first vaccine series, the first two shots,” Goldman said. “I think you should have a booster. Although, I admit the data isn’t as good.”

He believes it isn’t a question of if, just when.

“Other coronaviruses the immunity fades out over time. Other coronaviruses cause the common cold and obviously, you can get the common cold more than once,” Goldman said.

Pfizer says its data shows anyone 16 and older should get their third dose six months out from their second.

“What I would describe as the scientific community’s best-educated guess. There’s no way I could look someone in the eye and say that I know eight months is better than six months or 10 months,” Goldman said.

The FDA says vaccines at their currently approved doses still afford protection against severe disease and death. Goldman is still eager for a boost.

“I will try to get one as soon as possible and I especially want my parents who are older to get one as soon as possible,” Goldman said.

Although, he does know the scientific data on the boosters isn’t as certain as it is on the other shots.

“I would admit to anyone that I don’t think the data is as good for boosters and it is more of a judgment call than it is to get the original vaccine series,” Goldman said.

He argues getting more people their first and second doses is even more important than the boosters.

“What has the potential to end this pandemic is more people getting their primary vaccine series,” Goldman said.

When people do get their booster shot, they should expect to experience more severe side effects than they got with their first two shots.

“There is a worry that they will have more side effects from the third doses. And my side effects I mean the fevers, the chills, the sweats, the flu-like illness,” Goldman said.

Friday’s FDA panel discussion will specifically be about approving a Pfizer booster shot. Moderna is a couple of weeks behind them in the process and J&J is behind them both.

A CDC panel will meet next week to talk about who should get the Pfizer booster shots and when that should happen.

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