Doctors at KU Health want to see data before recommending COVID-19 booster


KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is meeting with government scientists Monday to discuss whether a booster shot is needed for its COVID-19 vaccine.

Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System say they want to see the data before recommending a third shot.

Pfizer says it’s going to start clinical trials next month for an updated version of its vaccine that would better protect people against the Delta variant.

Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking approval for a third shot based on initial study results that the companies claim have been good.

The companies claim a booster shot given six months after the second dose produced antibodies that would protect against both the original coronavirus and a more recent mutation.

But immunization experts, including KU doctors, may not recommend a third shot, except for those who are immuno-compromised with other health issues, such as recent transplant patients.

“If they do pivot the vaccine to generate some antibodies created by the new spike, it could be important,” Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infection prevention medical director at the hospital, said. “But what we have seen with these MRNA vaccines and the Johnson-and-Johnson is they continue to offer good protection against the Delta variant.”

Vaccine makers say they want to be ready for a mutating version of the virus that can elude protection provided by existing shots.

Right now, federal health officials say booster shots are not necessary.

Doctors say Israel is moving toward providing booster shots after finding the Pfizer vaccine dropping from 95 percent to about 65 percent effective, when it comes to warding off the Delta variant.

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