TOPEKA (KSNT) – Amid an ongoing debate about the need for coronavirus booster shots, one Kansas health official said there’s no need to rush the approval process.
Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, Senior Fellow at the Kansas Health Institute, told the Kansas Capitol Bureau that coronavirus vaccines are still effective in preventing severe infection.
“If the vaccines remain as effective as they are now, we shouldn’t see any important increase in the number of hospitalizations, severe cases, and deaths in vaccinated people, because if we see that, that would be a clear sign that the vaccine’s effectiveness is decreasing.” Dr. Pezzino explained.
An FDA advisory panel agreed, rejecting a plan last week to give Pfizer coronavirus booster shots to almost all Americans. The panel voted to recommend the shots to people at high-risk or aged 65 and up.
Members cited a lack of safety data on extra doses and also raised doubts about the value of mass boosters, rather than ones targeted to specific groups.
Dr. Pezzino said it’s necessary to get that information to make a final decision, but, in the meantime, the current safety and effectiveness of the vaccines should not cause an overwhelming disruption among vaccinated, less at-risk groups.
Pezzino said while many vaccines can lose effectiveness over time, which signals the need for an extra dose, it’s necessary for the FDA approval process to play out, taking time to gather the information needed for approval. Instead, the doctor said, the primary focus should be on continuing conversations on how to get more people vaccinated who don’t have shots at all.
“What’s really going to make a huge difference in this pandemic is not a booster dose for a subset or even all the people that received two doses. What’s really going to make a difference is increasing the number of people that receive any dose of the vaccine. Even just one dose is better than none.”