Health experts expected to recommend third COVID-19 vaccine dose for all

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Many residents are still in the process of getting their first two COVID-19 vaccine doses and now there are talks of a third shot.

U.S. health experts are expected to recommend a booster dose for everyone, regardless of age, eight months after they received their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

This has been something that has been discussed for some time now as experts have been following the research.

But local doctors say there are still processes to go through and data to crunch before the recommendation goes through.

"I think it's still a little up in the air," said Dr. Marci Drees, a specialist at ChristianaCare and liaison for the CDC's vaccine advisory panel.

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U.S. experts are expected to recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans eight months after they received their second dose of the shot.



She said typically with a new recommendation, the FDA would first expand authorization and then it goes to the CDC to set guidelines. This means there are more steps before a booster dose can be offered to the general public.

Se. Drees explains what will happen in the meantime.

"People shouldn't be rushing out to their pharmacy to try to get a third dose. I think people should be confident that they are certainly still highly protected against severe disease," she said.

Other experts are echoing that reassurance.

"We are seeing the vaccine we have with the two doses is very good at limiting severe disease and hospitalization," said Scott Hensley of Penn Medicine.

Hensley said a booster dose will help prevent more breakthrough cases, which are people who get infected despite being fully vaccinated. But he'd like to see more people worldwide get their first and second dose first.

He also said while antibody levels wane over time with the vaccine, that's not the entire picture. There could be other parts of the immune system kicking in.

"For example, at Penn we found the T-cells elicited by vaccination stick around for a long time and they target parts of the virus that don't change," he said.

This means they could help the body fight off infection no matter which variant strikes next.

Studies are continuing to determine when protection from the vaccine drops off significantly. Experts say that would bring more clarity to the question of when they should be given if they no longer help keep people out of the hospital.

Decisions will be up to the FDA and CDC.
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