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Despite Pfizer meeting, Alabama health leaders question need for third shot

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 8:22 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A big meeting was held Monday with Pfizer and top health leaders in the country about the possible need for a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer says the booster shot is needed, but other health leaders are not so sure.

Pfizer said a study in Israel is showing that after the second dose of their vaccine, some people are losing some immunity six to 12 months after the shot. There are concerns about what this could mean for those 75 and older, as well as healthcare workers who were first in line to get shots.

Pfizer is asking for emergency approval for a third shot, or a booster. The company is meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the president, and Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, about the need for the additional shot.

Alabama’s top doctor says a third shot may be necessary, but he is not convinced it’s needed now.

“Most of us think at some point we think we will have to have the ground laid for that. As for the need to boosters in the immediate future, I haven’t seen any data on the need for that,” said ADPH State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

Pfizer points out those who received the first shots of COVID vaccine six months ago may now need a booster, especially if the vaccine shows signs of waning. But a top infectious disease doctor at UAB called it a tempest in a teapot.

“What we need is to get everyone vaccinated who is not vaccinated in the state of Alabama and let’s squash this epidemic while we have chance,” said Dr. Michael Saag.

Dr. Saag said the country is not seeing an increase in COVID cases among vaccinated people and so far, no new variant has come out where the vaccine doesn’t work against it.

If a third vaccine was approved, it could cost billions of dollars to supply it to all those who were originally vaccinated. That’s why many are seeking additional information.

“There is a cost benefit analysis you have to do. You can’t spend an unlimited amount of money to get an incremental bit of health. Even though our goal is to protect everyone,” Harris said.

Harris and Saag both said additional information has to be provided to convince the FDA and CDC a third shot is going to be required. Both agreed a third vaccine booster is possible, but they haven’t seen the proof yet for it.

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