Science not yet clear on general public’s need for COVID booster shot


(NewsNation Now) — It’s unanimous: A scientific panel advising the Food and Drug Administration has voted 18-0 in favor of providing COVID-19 booster shots for those who are immuno-compromised or 65 or older who got the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines earlier this year.

What’s still not clear is whether the rest of us need a third shot.

Though Biden administration officials had said earlier that booster shots would be available to the general pubic this week, they also promised to follow the advice of leading scientists—and those scientists are still divided on the question.

The panel of scientists advising the FDA voted 16-2 on Friday against recommending that the general public get a vaccine booster, saying they need more evidence that the original shots have lost efficacy.

Still, some scientists believe it’s just a matter of time before that decision is made.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said he is confident that “ultimately, the real proper regimen will turn out to be the original two shots, plus a boost.”

COVID-19 vaccines are working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. But with the delta variant, “public health experts are starting to see reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. For that reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is planning for a booster shot so vaccinated people maintain protection over the coming months.”

Jim Benzian, a doctor in Santa Barbara, noted that Pfizer and Moderna were modeled with boosters in mind; the second of the original two shots was already a booster.

The CDC says that as of Friday morning, more than 211 million Americans have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccination, and more than 180 million have been fully vaccinated.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases physician at The University of California, San Francisco joined NewsNation to discuss vaccine hesitancy. See the interview in the player below.

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