AM analysts have been monitoring and reporting discussions on the increasing likelihood that booster shots will be required to further protect people against COVID-19. As many have feared, the Delta variant has spread across the United States, once again placing tremendous strain on state and local healthcare systems and communities. Many hospitals are once again overwhelmed, and The Washington Post stated that “The delta variant is putting our hospitals back in crisis mode.”
Vaccinations have been the light at the end of the ‘pandemic’ tunnel, especially in allowing us to feel more confident about returning to some semblance of normality and engaging in more social activities. However, research has shown that the vaccines currently being offered are not as effective, long term, against COVID-19 and variants as scientists had hoped. It is important to note that the vaccines have been highly effective against hospitalizations and severe illness caused by the Delta variant; though, the fear remains that the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can lead to severe illness and death for unvaccinated individuals.
The waning protection levels offered by current vaccines have led to the increasing likelihood that booster shots will be offered this fall. As of August 23, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine became the first vaccine to receive full FDA approval after eight months of operating under an emergency use authorization. Reports have suggested that full approval will “pave the way for boosters, mandates.” As stated by AM analysts in a previous post, there have been numerous reports of individuals across the United States trying to “cheat the system” and get an additional third dose of the vaccine, against official recommendations at the time. Although there are many ethical dilemmas and reasons why individuals should not unilaterally go against medical guidelines, their fear is understandable as is the desire to further protect themselves, especially as the CDC states that 98.8% of new US infections are caused by the Delta variant.
The Biden Administration announced that from September 20th, 2021, pending approval by the FDA, booster shots will be offered to recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines at least eight months after receiving their second doses. There will be confusion over who will qualify for a booster dose and media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal are providing readers with important information on what the booster shot is, who should get it, and where you can get one.
While it is welcome news that booster shots have been recommended, and we have the opportunity to strengthen our resistance to COVID-19, and especially the Delta variant, it is important to note that as of August 23, 2021, only 51% of the US population (12+ years old) have been fully vaccinated and 60% of the US population (12+ years old) have received only one dose of the vaccine. With many states still focused on persuading citizens to receive their first vaccine dose, now they face the challenge of persuading them to consider and take a third dose. The focus must remain on increasing the number of individuals who are partially and fully vaccinated before we focus resources on promoting booster shots. Additionally, many of those who are currently unvaccinated across the US are extremely vaccine-hesitant, and the idea that the vaccines currently being offered are “not enough” and need a booster plays into an existing narrative that the vaccines are not effective against COVID-19. Authorities must prioritize targeting vaccine hesitancy in those who have a lack of information or believe misinformation about the vaccine and/or COVID-19. This will not only encourage individuals to become fully vaccinated but can also educate individuals about the need for booster vaccines.
AM LLC is currently working nationwide with multiple states and public health agencies on testing, contact tracing, and vaccination programs. Counties, states, or K-12 partners that are interested in partnering with AM for COVID-19 mitigation support should contact Dr. Christopher K Orlea at email@example.com.