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FDA approves 2nd booster shot for those 50 and up and immunocompromised

Posted at 4:29 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 20:11:43-04

(KGTV) — Americans 50 years and older can now receive a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC issued a statement allowing shots to begin immediately, hours after the FDA authorized the shot.

Dr. Christian Ramers, an Infectious Disease Specialist and Chief of Population Health at Family Health Centers of San Diego, explains that this recommendation is not a blanket statement for everyone. This is aimed specifically to those fifty and up, and those who are immunocompromised.

"It's not unprecedented, we give ongoing booster shots for tetanus every ten years and influenza ever year," shares Dr. Ramers. "So this is not a totally crazy concept."

The FDA studied this fourth dose of Pfizer vaccines on 700,000 Israeli adults. The dose was given just 4 months after their first booster, and the FDA shared that non-experienced safety concerns outside of the typical side effects.

Dr. Ramers explains why the time frame in between booster shots was shortened, “The reason it is different is purely because of the data, the FDA likes to follow the data and the particular data that they based this recommendation off of used a four-month interval."

He furthers, "I don’t think people need to be concerned about getting an additional vaccine four months from the previous one, because again we have a precedent from this in the past.”

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong explains, “Whether or not you go to get it 4.5 months, 5 months to 6 months, it probably doesn’t really matter to the immune system, but if you follow the letter of the science in the study, it’s four months.”

But the new measure begs the question, is this fourth dose necessary?

"It's going to depend on the individual, which makes it very confusing and that's certainly criticism that has been leveled against," shares Dr. Abisola Olulade. "But I think the biggest thing to remember, the risk of having side effects with this booster is relatively low, so weighing that against this insurance policy is what everyone is going to have to do."

Dr. Olulade, who works in the Family Medicine department at Sharp Rees-Stealy, says this second booster should be preventative.

"They are being transparent about the fact that we really don't have a lot of real-world evidence on how protective this is going to be," she says. "But we want to be proactive because when we have seen surges it's already too late."

As of March 16th, only 55.3% of San Diegans received their booster shot.

Dr. Chin-Hong says that getting that number up is more the priority, "To me, I really want to vaccinate that two-shot group to get them up to three because that is really where you are going to get the most bang for your buck."

He furthers, "The immune system really responds best in the long-term when you've gotten three."

Experts believe in the future coronavirus boosters could be done every year.

Dr. Ramers shares, “Probably maybe an annual boost is going to be recommended based on what variants we see. We really haven’t tried to make a more variant-specific vaccine.”

“There may be more additional recommendations come the fall," he expresses. "But I think everyone is realizing that we really want to get ahead of this potential BA.2 surge that may be coming ahead in the weeks to months to come.”

As of now, this second booster is recommended to keep vulnerable populations healthy against COVID-19.