The New Normal: Doctors discuss when COVID-19 booster shots would be needed
U.S. health officials are expected to recommend an extra dose of the vaccine for Americans as early as this week, and doctors say this could have a major impact in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr. Bernard Camins is the medical director for Infection Prevention for the Mount Sinai Health System. He says booster shots aim to improve a person’s immune response to the virus.
Dr. Camins says once approved, it is recommended people get their booster shot at least eight months after completing their series of their first two doses.
"The other thing we need to do is see what the CDC recommends. While the FDA does the approve the vaccine, it is the ACIP, which is an arm of the CDC, that makes recommendations for vaccinations,” Dr. Camins says. “We have been following those recommendations for other vaccines, and we will continue to do so.”
Dr. Camins says while the full approval of the COVID-19 vaccine by the FDA is still needed, there is enough evidence that shows the vaccine is safe.
“The fact of the matter is though, even just in this country alone, more than 160 million adults, or including some kids older than 12, have received a COVID-19 vaccine,” he says. “It is almost saying that it is safe because that many people have received it, and that I think that getting full approval or licensure at this point is just checking all the boxes. But the data has already been submitted by the pharmaceutical companies and they just have to go through the process."
According to the latest CDC data, just under 51% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Dr. Camins says it is crucial that Americans who are on the fence go ahead and get vaccinated.
“I really think there is enough data out there that people should get the vaccine, this is really the only way we can control this pandemic,” he says. “With masking and social distancing, we're temporizing intervention, and we will continue to do those when we have a really high rate of infection. But again, vaccination is the key."
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While a newly released survey shows 70% of Americans favor masks in schools, many parents do not.
Dr. Jo-Anne Passalacqua is an infectious disease specialist with Hartford HealthCare St. Vincent's Medical Center. She says schools may have the option of implanting social distance policies instead, but in the end, masks may be the only option.
"Children under 12 don't have the option for vaccination, so they are going to be extremly at risk as school returns this fall, and we’re seeing, witht the new delta variant, increased cases among children,” she says. “I think ultimately, we have to keep our children safe. If there is a way to have them properly distanced in the classroom, perhaps that would be the most ideal. But in settings where the children need to be closer together, then a mask may be the only way to keep them safe."