Chicago Doctor Breaks Down Latest Guidance on COVID Vaccine Booster Shots

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Federal officials have not given official word on if or when people should expect to need COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, but a Chicago doctor broke down the latest information.

Although Moderna and Pfizer have said Americans could need a booster shot before winter, Dr. Temitope Oyedele, an infectious disease expert at Cook County Health, said the data is not there yet.

"I think it’s too soon to say if the general population will need a booster shot," Oyedele said. "Until it becomes a recommendation and things become recommended after looking at a lot of information, a lot of data, weighing a lot of different things. I would advise people not to do that as of yet."

The Chicago area doctor noted that though there's no official recommendation for a booster shot, scientists are looking specifically at the immunocompromised groups of people.

"They are looking closely at whether or not people who are really immunocompromised will need a booster shot and hopefully we’ll have some guidance from the FDA and CDC on that soon," Oyedele said.

On Thursday, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that should a booster COVID shot recommendation come, it will likely be for particular populations, such as those over age 65 and people with immune-compromising conditions.

"We may see a booster recommendation, but we're more likely to see that I think for particular populations as we do for other diseases, even flu," Arwady said.

If a recommendation is put into place in the future, however, Arwady said pharmaceutical companies are ready.

"So the pharmaceutical companies are doing all that work, they are very ready to go when if there is need for a booster, but we've not seen anything that says, adults, for example, that would be a requirement," Arwady said.

She added that the U.S. will not be able to "booster" their way out of the COVID pandemic, so the focus should rather be on vaccine equity, especially as the Delta variant surges.

Arwady previously noted that the new variants that continue to emerge could threaten vaccine efficacy.

"The real question for me is, do we see variants emerge where the vaccine is no longer as effective and that would be when we would probably need to be talking about boosters," she said.

Still, Arwady said any of the three vaccines currently being used in the U.S. continue to show good results as far as protection.

"Right now there is no recommendation if you are fully vaccinated with any of those three vaccines that you would need to get another type of vaccine or that there's a need there," she said. "And really the news continues to be good where we look at this question of will we need boosters. There was just some additional studies out that have been, you know, this is one of the biggest questions and the news really keeps looking promising that the protection for the variants we have now for the vaccines that we have now is looking quite good and quite long lasting and I'm not anticipating that we will be seeing large scale booster shots anytime very soon for the broad population."

In a study released Thursday, Moderna said its COVID vaccine booster shot produced a "robust" antibody response against the highly contagious delta variant.

CNBC reported that in a phase two trial, Moderna is testing a 50-microgram dose of three vaccine booster candidates in previously vaccinated individuals. The booster shots produced a promising immune response against three variants, including delta, with antibody levels approaching those seen in previously unvaccinated people who received two 100-microgram doses, the company said.

The data has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, it said.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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