Hawaii COVID expert optimistic as booster shots roll out

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Over the past few weeks, there has been confusion about COVID booster shots and who should get one.

On Sunday, Sept. 26, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky explained why she endorsed Pfizer’s vaccine booster for older Americans, people who are high risk and frontline workers.

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“This is not the bureaucratic process; this is the scientific process. You have scientific experts, academicians who are talking about the FDA advisory committee. The FDA puts its authorization. You have academicians, people working their entire career in immunology and vaccinology, informing the CDC. I think this is an important scientific process and an important scientific dialogue. It has been scrutinized. It’s been watched in ways that it has never been before, but that has been the process that has held us in good stead. And that, I think, is important for people who might and it’s very transparent. And I think it’s important for people to understand and be able to watch the science, so they have confidence in the process.”

Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director

The Department of Health (DOH) said booster shots will be prioritized for those aged 65 and up, adults with underlying medical conditions and adults at high risk due to their occupation. Currently, the most long-term data on booster shots comes from Israel and the United Kingdom, where boosters have been administered since late July.

“We’re very, very anxious to see this because most evidence that we have now shows that it will boost immunity,” Dr. Scott Miscovich said.

Dr. Miscovich of Premier Medical Group Hawaii works with delivering COVID vaccines and testing worldwide to schools, SEC college athletics and to the Olympics.

Data from Israel’s Health Ministry found that protection from a third mRNA shot is four times higher than the second coronavirus vaccine dose for those who are 60 years old and older.

“We have other data coming out of the UK that shows that after about six months, the amount of antibodies and immunity that your body is producing starts to wane, especially in the people who are immunosuppressed,” Dr. Miscovich explained. “So, getting that new booster is going to take you back up to even higher than where you started with your second shot.”

So, will that lead to more shots down the line? The jury is still out.

“I would be very much ready for another shot next year — a year from now — is what I would anticipate, personally, from the data we see, and a lot of us are believing that there could even be your flu shot and your COVID shot being given a result. It’s still a possibility but the best answer is, no one knows right now.” Dr. Miscovich said.

On Friday, Sept. 17, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) panel voted against a plan to approve Pfizer’s booster shots to most Americans, citing a lack of data on the safety of extra doses and that the data showing the success of booster shots in Israel might not mean the extra shot will be as successful in the United States.

From Dr. Miscovich’s experience, he said administering booster shots are just as safe as the first two COVID vaccine doses.

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“This is reports from the field, and it does parallel some of the studies. We’re getting less side effects than we did with the second injection. You just get a little bit of a sore arm, and the number one thing we’ll see is, maybe, day two a little bit of fatigue, but the side effect profile is actually lower and not much at all.”

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