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Drew: Frequently asked questions and answers about COVID-19 booster shots

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

It is hard to believe sometimes that the topics of these safety articles over the past year continue to be centered around the varied degrees of COVID-19. Why may one ask? The answer is simple, the COVID-19 pandemic remains the number one biggest safety threat to us worldwide.
The developments by the scientists and medical communities are constantly evolving due to their ongoing research. Whether individuals choose to listen and accept their findings is an individual matter which unfortunately does not merely impact that one individual but has the capacity to impact so many other innocent family members, friends, and the community at large.  Therefore, the sources of information contained in these articles are based upon scientific and medical research findings versus an individual opinion.
This week’s article will address some frequently asked questions and answers provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of September 1. Here are a few:

Q: Why is the United States waiting to start offering COVID-19 vaccine boosters?
A: The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States continue to be highly effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, COVID-19 constantly evolves. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working, including how new variants, like Delta, affect vaccine effectiveness. If FDA authorizes and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends it, the goal is for people to start receiving COVID-19 booster shots this fall.

Q: Can people who received Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine get a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine?
A: No, there aren’t enough data currently to support getting an mRNA vaccine dose (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) if someone has previously gotten a J&J/Janssen vaccine. People who got the J&J/Janssen vaccine will likely need a booster dose of the J&J/Janssen vaccine, and more data are expected in the coming weeks. With those data in hand, CDC will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J/Janssen booster shots.

Q: If you need a booster dose, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?
A: No. COVID-19 vaccines are working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, with the Delta variant, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. For that reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning for a booster shot so vaccinated people maintain protection over the coming months.

If you have any questions and concerns whether you or a loved one should receive the mRNA booster shot, contact your healthcare provider for answers. This will enable you to Keep an Eye on Safety for everyone.