RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- The White House COVID-19 Task Force has announced that later this month booster shots will be available to the general public. This comes after the FDA and CDC approved third doses for the immunocompromised.
Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist at Duke Health and an associate professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, tackled some of the common questions related to boosters.
Q. The CDC lists groups of people who are higher risk for COVID-19 but not everyone on that list can get a booster right now. Why?
A. “We’re trying to carve out a group of individuals who we know to be at severe high risk of COVID-19, that’s number one. We know on average their response is poorer to vaccines so we’re trying to give them a little bit more.”
He continued, “We take two individuals: one who is a kidney transplant patient and one who is an older diabetic who may be overweight. They’re both at increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. But, the transplanted patient is at uniquely higher risk of not having built a defense from the vaccine and therefore we’re trying to prop them up even more.”
Q. How are the boosters/third doses different from the first two doses?
A. “What we’re talking about is the same dose you had before. There’s no difference. The dose is exactly the same.”
Q. Why are Johnson & Johnson recipients not able to get second dose yet?
A. “The reality is, sadly, is that there’s not visible data to the community yet that speaks to how effective they will be. Either going from J&J booster to something else, like Moderna or Pfizer, or about using the J&J to boost up on top of the first J&J.”
He added, “The company has signaled that the data is in fact, incredible reassuring. If that’s true, I think it’s worth us collectively waiting a few weeks to better understand what that really looks like. So sit tight. I apologize for the dearth of data in that regard. It’s frustrating but I think there’s good information coming. “
Q. Can I get another dose different from the first one or two I got?
A. “It’s not that we know that there’s damaging or safety data aplenty in people who had mixed courses; it’s just that we don’t know what the data is.”
“If we’re going to respond in a way that’s appropriate and trustworthy, we’ve got to be data-driven. All the evidence is mounted for people who have taken the same dose.”
Q. Why don’t the boosters address the delta variant?
A. “Are we looking for varied boosting doses in a way that responds to the variants occurring around the globe? The answer to that is yes. None of those variant boosters have reached the point of public dissemination yet into the general medical community.”