Data inconclusive on general need for 4th COVID-19 dose

While federal data shows COVID-19 booster effectiveness declines after four months, U.S. health officials say it's still too soon to know whether a fourth shot will be needed for the general public, The New York Times reported Feb. 17.

"We simply don't have enough data to know that it's a good thing to do," Peter Marks, MD, PhD, head of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told the publication.

CDC data released Feb. 11 shows vaccine efficacy against COVID-19 hospitalization falls from 91 percent two months after a booster to 78 percent after four months. Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House's chief medical adviser, said booster doses still offer a strong level of protection at 78 percent effectiveness. 

The nation's booster strategy will largely depend on whether this protection holds steady or continues to drop after four or five months, Dr. Fauci said. 

At present, the CDC recommends only immunocompromised Americans receive a fourth COVID-19 dose.

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