DENVER (CBS4) – The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will vote on FDA recommendations for booster shots. The vote is expected to be followed and approved by CDC commissioner Dr. Rochelle Walensky, creating a new government guideline. The FDA’s recommendation is for people 65 and up, those whose jobs put them at risk of infection and those who are immunocompromised, but only for those who have had the Pfizer vaccine.
“So there are people who are immunocompromised who might need a third dose in order to actually continue to boost their immune system up to that maximum, efficient level. And then there’s the cases of people who’ve had high levels of immunity from the first two vaccines, but their immunity has been waning over time,” explained Shaunti Meyer, senior director of medical affairs for Stride Community Health. Stride has been giving boosters to people with weakened immune systems.
“Just like any other vaccine we know there’s a natural decline in immunity. Either from getting the disease itself or getting a vaccination for it.”
“If I were to come down with a respiratory infection like this I wouldn’t survive it,” said Matt Snider, who was getting a booster shot at a Walgreen’s in Aurora. “For starters, I’m immunocompromised to begin with. I have a number of chronic conditions that require medication. Not the least of which is asthma.”
Snider, who works for a law firm, is just under 65. He’ll be traveling soon to New York, then to visit family in Seattle.
“I’m going to be in a plane.”
He hopes to see his 11 year old granddaughter in Seattle, who has yet to be vaccinated due to her age.
“I don’t want to run the risk of picking up something.”
“Ultimately our goal and our job is to follow the science,” said Meyer. She knows there’s a debate among experts about using vaccines for boosters or sharing vaccines with other countries. “We have discussions about this all the time just among different staff as far as the global inequity… if you look at COVID cases right now in the world, we’re still near or at the top.”
It is a balancing act. Experts have to decide if there is more benefit in protecting people who may get sick due to reduced immunity or in preventing infections. The Delta Variant’s contagious nature is one problem, but the development of another more insidious variant is yet another, particularly with a large portion of the population, children under 11, unvaccinated.
“The more people that we have vaccinated and the less this virus can spread, the less it has a chance to mutate and potentially become even more contagious and more deadly,” said Meyer.
One big question will be whether Colorado will choose to follow the likely guidelines or those advocated by Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday, when he told people over 70, they should claim an immune condition to get vaccinated.
There will still not likely be recommendations from the CDC for those who have gotten the Moderna or Jansen vaccines to get a booster. The Moderna has shown greater effectiveness against the Delta Variant and there is building sentiment that the J&J vaccine may require a second shot. Meyer says they are anxiously awaiting the vote.
Matt Snider got his booster and was happy to have it and excited to visit his son and daughter-in law and granddaughter in Seattle. “I would be very, very upset if I were to pick something up and transmit it to her,” he said. “This is really an effort to protect as many people as I can. My family, my friends, my neighbors , my community. My co-workers, but especially my granddaughter.”