KANSAS CITY, Mo — The delta variant is threatening the efficacy of the current COVID-19 vaccines. Doctors say it went down from being 95% effective to 88%.
Now, health experts around the country are encouraging a booster shot for those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, hoping to get those efficacy levels back up.
“We don’t want to see any decrement in the ability to fight off or stave off hospitalizations and deaths,” Dr. Mark Steele, with Truman Medical Centers said. “And by getting the booster, it appears there's some evidence that would help to further bolster the effects of these vaccines.”
The booster is a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Experts encourage people to get it following eight months since the date of their second dose.
It is common for vaccine efficacy to start decreasing after staying in someone's body for six months.
Currently there is not enough data for a Johnson and Johnson booster, but Dr. Steele says he suspects there will be one in the future.
“Efficacy in preventing mild and moderate disease has fallen off some," Steele said. "Thankfully, there's no data to suggest that protection against hospitalizations and death have fallen off."
But as long as COVID-19 exists, doctors say it will only continue to mutate and take dangerous forms. This means booster shots could become seasonal if we do not get the virus under control.
Healthcare experts believe current COVID-19 vaccines are effective and safe. They do not anticipate it will be any different with the booster shot.
Still, the Food and Drug Administration will have to give its final approval before doses can be rolled out for all adults the week of Sept. 20.
It will likely be another amendment to the current Emergency Use Authorization that they have for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, similar to the recent amendment that was made to allow an additional dose for those immunocompromised.
Steele says experts plan to roll out the boosters similar to how they rolled out the vaccines.
“Those who are healthcare workers, people or residents in long term care centers and then also 65 and older, the elderly population, would be prioritized it appears,” Steele said.