Health experts weigh in on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster recommendation

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Doctor Rochelle Walensky said on Friday: "As CDC director, it's my job to recognize when our actions can have the greatest impact."

She explained her decision to allow frontline workers who've had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine to get a third, six months out from the second dose.

This can include healthcare workers, teachers, essential workers and anyone whose job puts them at a greater risk for exposure. Many experts applaud the decision.

"I think a lot of frontline healthcare workers are concerned and they want to know they at least have the capacity to be as protected as possible," said John Wherry, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Immunology at Penn Medicine.

He says not only will the extra dose boost protection, it may also lessen the risk of spreading the virus and it will help keep workers on the job.

The official recommendations are for anyone 65 years old and older and residents in long term care facilities, plus people between the ages of 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions should get a third dose.

People 18-49 with underlying medical conditions and people 18 to 64 year old at increased risk of occupational or institutional exposure may get a third dose

Recommendations regarding boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine have yet to be decided.

But with all three vaccines, Wherry says right now you can still feel confident in your protection.

"Just remember you may get infected if you're vaccinated, but the chances of you going to the hospital are extremely low and that's what the vaccine is protecting you from," he said.

The greatest risk for infection and severe illness remains in people who are unvaccinated. Officials say the main focus should be on getting people their first shots, not the third.
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