While some people are still hesitant or uninterested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine, others are interested in receiving a booster. As the different strains Delta, Lambda and Delta Plus are all more transmissible than the original virus, people hope to boost their immunity with an additional shot. But, public health experts are advising people to wait.
In the UK, Germany and Israel, you can get a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer has asked the FDA to approve people getting a third shot of theirs. But, the FDA hasn’t okayed it. Insurers aren’t sure if they are willing to pay for it without the FDA’s approval. And, many around the world who want the shot still haven’t received their first shot. Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) asked countries to stop giving out boosters until the end of September to close the gap in vaccinations between the many different countries. As long as so many countries are unvaccinated, variants will continue to develop.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it,” said the head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“With the emergence of new variants, if we continue to leave the majority of the world unvaccinated, we will most definitely need adjusted vaccines in the future,” said Elin Hoffmann Dahl, infectious diseases medical adviser to Doctors Without Borders.
Dr. Peter Marks of the FDA said that the “FDA does not recommend taking things into your own hands” when it comes to extra shots. The vaccines are still under emergency use authorization. They have been researched and cleared to be used as they are currently being administered, but extra doses are not recommended yet. That’s not to say it isn’t possible in the future; it’s just that the science isn’t there yet: the research isn’t clear.
For healthy adults, there may never be a need for a booster. For people at higher risk, with worse immune systems, it could be a different story. If data shows that boosters could be beneficial for high-risk people, older people and those with compromised immune systems may be eligible soon.
The White House has said that the U.S. has enough supply to not worry about the WHO’s call to halt. We have ample supply that we can give people boosters while still donating to others if a need for boosters arises.
“We hit an important milestone of over 110 million vaccines donated to the world. That is more than any other country has shared combined,” said Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “We will have enough supply to ensure that if the FDA decides that boosters are recommended for a portion of the population, to provide those as well. We believe we can do both and we don’t need to make that choice.”
We understand people’s urge to do everything to protect themselves, especially if they live in a high-risk area or have underlying health conditions. But, right now, health experts are urging caution. Trying to get an additional one from your local walk-in pharmacy might not be your best choice.