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Samaritan doctor predicts boosters are coming for COVID

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 5:40 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A Samaritan Medical Center doctor predicts booster shots are coming for people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“With variants, with immunity waning over an unclear period of time, I do think boosters will be coming. I just don’t know when,” said Dr. Benjamin Rudd.

Dr. Rudd’s comments came as the Food and Drug Administration took the first, tentative steps toward boosters, authorizing Americans with severely weakened immune systems to get a third vaccination in hopes of better protection.

The Food and Drug Administration ruled that transplant recipients and other similarly immune-compromised patients can get a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. But the decision offers an extra dose only to those high-risk groups — not the general public.

Dr. Rudd said the two dose vaccines appear to be only about 40 percent effective with immune-system compromised patients, as opposed to healthy people, where the vaccines are 80 to 90 percent effective or more.

As for the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Dr. Rudd said “I think we just don’t know and it’s because there is no evidence to suggest that would be beneficial, they are not authorizing that at this point.”

It’s important to note that what the FDA authorized is not, strictly speaking, a booster because boosters are for people whose immunity wanes over time and these high-risk groups didn’t get enough protection to begin with.

Nonetheless, federal health officials - like Dr. Rudd at Samaritan - believe boosters will eventually be necessary.

“We believe sooner or later you will need a booster for durability of protection” -- but not yet, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, told reporters this week.

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