Medical experts explain Pfizer booster shot

Dr. Sandra Martell says booster shot differs from third shot already available for immunocompromised people.
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 9:44 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Immunization Advisory Committee voted to recommend booster shots to people over 65, and people over 18 with underlying health conditions.

“We look to see when did that start to kind of click down,” said Winnebago County Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell. “What was that optimal time to administer the booster?”

Martell explained the booster is not the same as the third shot many immunocompromised people already received.

“We heard that the FDA had looked at the data around booster doses, which are those doses for individuals whose immunity is waning,” said Martell.

She said the third shot that is readily available for for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is for people who still need to reach full protection.

“It’s not that they’re getting a booster dose. It’s that they never achieved the level of immunity that was supposed to be achieved with the first two doses, because of their immune system function,” said Martell.

Anyone qualified to receive the booster needs to wait six months after their last shot. Medical experts say to talk to your doctor if you are unsure about getting the booster.

“With the delta variants, and these other variants showing up with COVID, the vaccines are still protecting well over 90 percent of people from severe disease, but we’re seeing these breakthrough cases,” said UW Madison Immunization Program Director Dr. James Conway. ‘That’s where the booster discussion is coming from.”

There is no booster shot for the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines yet. Doctor Martell said you can only get the Pfizer booster if you got Pfizer the first time around.

She said the shots could be administered as early as next week, but the Winnebago Health Department has to wait for the Illinois Department of Health to post guidelines.

The morning following the CDC advisory committee’s vote, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky overruled the panel by recommending people with high risk jobs to get the booster shot.

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