FLORIDA, USA — The holidays aren’t far away. As you start making plans on whether or not to travel and see family this year, the On Your Side team has the latest on one factor that may affect your decision: COVID-19 booster shots.
Based on a handful of responses to a tweet, there seems to be a divide on whether those on the First Coast will choose to receive a booster once they qualify.
One month ago, Pfizer boosters – an additional dose of the original vaccine – were recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the following categories of people:
- 65 years and older
- Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
- Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
- Age 18+ who work in high-risk settings
- Age 18+ who live in high-risk settings
Dr. Michael Koren, who heads up local vaccine trials at Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research, says at all three vaccines allowed in the United States have data showing increased antibodies with an extra dose.
“The question is whether or not clinical infections and hospitalizations and deaths drop due to the vaccine third dose or a second dose as the case may be,” Koren explained. “And that's why the FDA, in my opinion, did a good job by saying, 'Hey, let's take a deep breath. Let's find out if the boosters really are needed and are effective.'”
He predicts more data will be coming out about the Pfizer booster shot in two to three weeks, and then within three weeks after that the FDA will make a formal recommendation about Pfizer boosters for everyone. He says Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recommendations will follow after that.
If you became fully vaccinated more than six months ago, Koren says not to worry if boosters aren’t an option for you before Thanksgiving. He recommends continuing to take other precautions like masking and social distancing.
“We're still seeing that the people who get really sick from coronavirus are the ones who are unvaccinated. And that should really be the focus," he said. "If there are still unvaccinated people out there, please get vaccinated. It really makes a difference. You're protecting yourself. You're protecting your family."
Koren says studies are also beginning for boosters that are specific to the new variants. In fact, the Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research is launching a trial with Moderna boosters, including delta and beta specific booster shots.