Heath Hutcheson, Campus Carrier staff writer
The FDA has recently proposed a shift to annual Covid booster shots for Americans. Some physicians are very much in support of the idea, but just like anything Covid related, the situation has been met with a lot of opposition and even some confusion.
“Some believe a third shot is enough and that we don’t need an annual booster. There are other authorities that are thinking it may be like the flu shot, and we may need an annual shot for Covid. So, the consensus is still out on that subject really. Some are questioning whether or not we even needed the bivalent vaccine when the original vaccine seemed to be enough,” James Douglas, Medical Director at the Berry Health Center said.
In order to clear up some of the overarching confusion about the timeline of the vaccine over the past few years, Dr. Douglas gave an outline of its basic history.
“We have several covid vaccines. There are two mRNA vaccines, the pfizer vaccine and the moderna vaccine. Initially, for the primary series, you would get two shots for the pfizer 3 weeks apart, and for moderna you got two four weeks apart. They eventually recommended a third shot, which was labeled the “booster” for around 4-6 months after you receive the second shot.
The booster can either be one of the original ancestral strain vaccines, or it can be the bivalent vaccine for moderna or pfizer,” Douglas said.
Given that the booster shot was very much encouraged by so many physicians, it brought patients to wonder why they would need a third shot if the initial vaccine was intended to prevent disease.
“However, even though the antibody response is about the same, the real purpose of the vaccine is to prevent people from getting really sick and having to go to the hospital, not necessarily to prevent disease,” Douglas said.
It has also been encouraged by many medical professionals at Berry that people get their information about the vaccines from reliable sources.
“I really think you need to get your information from a healthcare professional. There is currently a lot of misinformation out there, especially on the internet. We’ve seen so much resistance to the vaccine, and from a health care standpoint, I think it’s important that patients can trust their health care professionals and just educate themselves,” Douglas said.
Considering how long it’s been since Covid has presented a major threat, many may think it is no longer a point of concern, but that is not quite the case.
“For the most part, the symptoms of Covid have stayed the same, but we’re still seeing deaths from Covid. We’re still seeing it in our office, and we diagnose several cases every week. I got a call just the other day that in one class, four students had gone home with Covid,” Douglas said.
The updated booster shots that were just launched last fall are specifically targeting newer Covid strains such as relatives of the Omnicron variant. Nonetheless, the initial vaccine is still proving to be very effective.
While the newer strains are what’s dominant now, the recommendations for those who have been diagnosed with the disease have not changed drastically.
“The recommendations are still pretty much to isolate for five days and then wear a mask for five more days, although I know people are sick of wearing them,” Douglas said.
The numbers have proven the vaccine as well as the boosters to be heavily effective, and with the proposal of the annual shot, the FDA is hoping that it could possibly help clear out the confusion with the primary vaccine and the boosters. Whether or not it comes to be is yet to be seen.
“The fact of the matter is people who have the vaccine are not seeing as serious of diseases as people who have not,” Douglas said.