Path for booster COVID shots still unclear as Sept. 20 goal looms

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The number of immunocompromised people lining up for their third dose of the COVID-19 shot has slowed.

There are still people coming in for their first like 14-year-old Hazbelle Corrasco.

“I just came to get vaccinated so I don’t have to miss out on school and miss the opportunity to get good grades and stuff. And because I’m on sports teams,” said Corrasco.

Her mom, Iris Munoz, who caught COVID-19 last year, brought her to a vaccination site.

“I lived it personally and it was really hard on me. Honestly, I almost died. It hit me really hard,” said Munoz.

She got her vaccine as soon as they were available to protect her family and coworkers.

“It would be selfish of us to not think of others,” said Munoz.

They may both be looking at a third dose at some point.

The case for boosters

New data from Moderna says its vaccine’s efficacy wanes after eight months – increasing the risk for breakthrough cases.

The company analyzed breakthrough cases in people who received its vaccine.

Moderna found 88 COVID-19 cases in 11,431 people vaccinated between December and March. It found 162 cases in the 14,746 vaccinated last year.

This data showed just 0.07 percent of people vaccinated recently and 1 percent of people vaccinated last year tested positive for COVID-19. They said it’s why anyone who got their vaccine needs a booster.

Pfizer has also pointing to waning efficacy to support their boosters.

In documents posted online, the FDA took note of conflicting data concerning boosters. The agency said, “Some observational studies have suggested declining efficacy of COMIRNATY over time against symptomatic infection or against the Delta variant, while others have not.”

Several studies supporting Pfizer boosters have been conducted in Israel, something the FDA also took note of saying US-based studies “may most accurately represent vaccine effectiveness in the US population.”

The FDA said data available to them showed the vaccines were still effective in preventing severe illness.

“In a perfect world, it would be great if nobody caught it but if I can prevent people from going to the hospital, that’s a win. The vaccine is doing its job,” said Dr. Tony Moody, associate professor in the Department of Immunology at Duke Health.

Vaccine providers like Cape Fear Valley Health are left in limbo while the FDA makes their decision.

“Usually the CDC has to meet, which is usually thereafter the FDA give their final recommendation, so they can move forward. So, we’re still planning on Sept. 20 but we’re just not really sure if that’s going to happen or not,” said Dr. Chris Tart, vice president of Professional Services at Cape Fear Valley Health.

For now, Munoz said she’ll take whatever doses doctors recommend.

“If it’s one, two, three, four, five doses- I’ll take it to be safe,” she said.

Pfizer booster side effects

Pfizer said injection site pain was the most common side effect. Documents showed most side effects lasted up to two days. The company reported severe side effects were rarely reported but when they were, it was severe fatigue and muscle pain. Trial participants ages 18 to 55 were the most likely to report any side effects.

SYMPTOM18-55 YEAR OLDS65-85 YEAR OLDS
Injection site pain83%66.7%
Fatigue63.8%41.7%
Headache48.4%41.7

Other side effects felt less frequently were chills and new/worsened joint pain.

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