Despite Pfizer’s announcement that it may be appropriate to explore giving individuals the third dose of its coronavirus vaccine, many doctors and public health authorities feel that getting doses into the hands of the now is more important than boosting those who are already completely vaccinated.
“It’s wonderful to have a booster approved for emergency use authorization on the shelf — ready to go any time we need it. But I do not think we need it right now,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Friday.
Pfizer and BioNTech revealed on Thursday that the third shot of their coronavirus vaccine, provided six months after the second dose, tends to maintain “the highest levels of protection” in people who have been vaccinated.
The corporations made their statement without disclosing any new information but stated that they intend to do so soon. Later, a Pfizer spokesman informed CNN that the company planned to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for special use authorization for a booster dose in August.
Within hours of the Pfizer/BioNTech announcement, the FDA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an enormous joint statement conveying that citizens who are fully vaccinated “do not need a booster shot at this time,” and that those who are unvaccinated should “get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves and their community.”
The statement also said, “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”
“We respect what the pharmaceutical company is doing, but the American public should take their advice from the CDC and the FDA,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday. Dr. Jerome Adams, former US surgeon general under the Trump administration, told CNN’s John Berman on Friday morning that vaccine producers are paying attention to what could be needed in the future, while health professionals are focusing on the current need for immunizations.
“The companies are thinking about where the hockey puck is going,” Adams said during an appearance on New Day. “Whereas the government, FDA and CDC, are looking at where the hockey puck is right now. They want to reassure Americans your best protection still is a vaccine, and you still have great protection — better than for the flu shot in any given year — even in the face of variants and waning immunity.”
In a meeting last month, members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices addressed when the organization may issue guidelines for booster vaccine doses. More evidence on the advantages of boosters is needed, according to the committee, but an increase in “breakthrough” infections might be a warning that immunity is fading in the future, and it’s time to reconsider the necessity for boosters.