The Biden Administration is set to announce that most Americans will need a booster of the COVID-19 vaccine after data has shown the vaccine’s effects begin to wane after eight months, as well as the fact that the Delta variant has taken hold of this country in a very scary way. The shots would not occur until the Fall.
The conclusion that boosters will be broadly needed was reached after intense discussions last weekend involving high-ranking officials who scrutinized the latest data from the United States and other countries on the effectiveness of the shots.
The statement is a striking change from public statements by senior officials in recent months who had said it was far too soon to conclude that Americans would need booster shots. In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA put out an unusual statement that said, “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time.” Officials have repeatedly said it wasn’t clear whether boosters would be needed.
But in recent days, the messaging has started to change. As data from other countries and in the United States showed waning immunity, health officials moderated their language, hinting booster shots would be likely. Last week, Anthony S. Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser, said it was “likely” everyone will need a coronavirus booster at some point.
I am sure the medical science community feels vindicated after getting push-back from government entities like the CDC. Many of the articles that pushed back on boosters were promoting the effectiveness of the one or two-shot vaccines in ensuring people did not end up hospitalized or dead. For many of us, that just wasn’t enough as those of us who have supported boosters just don’t want to get sick.
Add to that the fact that half of the country has illnesses, comorbidities, or are immunocompromised, and reality starts to set in that a booster is needed; especially with the Delta and other variants becoming highly transmissible.
The recent decision that the immunocompromised, those taking cancer medications, and others with serious illness would qualify for a booster was welcome news last week. While for some of these individuals, it is being called a booster, for many it is really a third attempt at a shot because many did not create antibodies from the first two shots.
Here’s a harsh reality:
People with conditions that weaken the immune system are also far more likely to have a breakthrough infection than people in more normal health. One U.S. study shows 40% to 44% of hospitalized breakthrough cases are in immunocompromised people.
So, those who throw around numbers to scare the unvaccinated as to how few of the vaccinated are breakthrough cases are seriously leaving out those who are vaccinated and could be easily killed by a breakthrough case. Being disingenuous with data can be dangerous. Being more honest about the percentage of breakthrough cases among positive COVID-19 tests should be a priority, instead. And that will take the CDC and state health agencies collecting and disseminating all of the data.
Anyway, I’m glad the higher-ups are coming around to ensuring a booster (or third) vaccine for people as the unvaccinated and unmasked are still spreading the disease. Those who care about their own health should be protected.