NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — The Biden administration anticipated starting booster shots for the general public Monday, September 20 but the FDA’s advisory board is advising against it.
Right now, the FDA panel is recommending a booster for those who are 65 and older and the high-risk population, like those with underlying health conditions. It also includes those who work in jobs with higher risks of COVID-19 exposure like health care workers.
State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha says a booster shot is being considered because after getting the vaccine the immunity levels drop over time. However many things have to be looked into like the timing, dosage amount and who would benefit from it?
Dr. Dillaha says it is also important to note that only the Pfizer vaccine is being considered right now. Adding you must wait and follow the recommendation for the vaccine you have initially taken.
“We want them to have optimal protection from a booster dose if one is recommended for them – and we need to wait and see what the data show,.” said Dr. Dillaha.
So what’s next? The agency will review the panel’s advice and make a final recommendation. For the booster to get an official green light, it also needs to be recommended by the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices.
The CDC is set to meet in the next few days to discuss the recommendations.
Moreover, Dr. Dillaha tells us when it comes to the state’s vaccination rate we have a long way to go. Just over 50% of eligible Arkansans are fully vaccinated but health experts are concerned by the number of people who are still hesitant to get the shot.
Right now, about 51% of people age 12 and older in Arkansas are fully vaccinated. She adds it is not nearly high enough to be able to protect the population from COVID-19.
Dr. Dillaha says vaccinations do a really good job to help keep people out of hospitals and to keep them from dying from the virus.
“It would appear that about one of three people who get COVID-19 have long-term symptoms and it can greatly impact a person’s life and that is something I would not wish on anyone,” said Dr. Dillaha.
She adds hospitals are very full right now and the health care system is very much strained with the number of COVID-19 patients who need care.
Dr. Dillaha also encourages those who’ve already contracted COVID-19 to still get vaccinated. She says that the group is still at risk of getting reinfected with the virus.