No rush on boosters for people who've had breakthrough COVID-19, experts say

Preliminary research shows fully vaccinated people who've contracted a breakthrough COVID-19 infection have strong protection, indicating they don't need to rush to get a booster dose, The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 10. 

Speaking on the topic of people who get COVID-19 after full vaccination Paul Offit, MD, told the Wall Street Journal: "I wouldn't ask them to get a booster dose. I think they just got it."

Dr. Offit is a member of the FDA's vaccine advisory committee. 

A number of preliminary studies have indicated a bout with COVID-19 after full vaccination essentially acts as an extra dose, prompting the immune system to generate B cells and T cells. 

The Wall Street Journal cited early findings from a U.K. study that found real-world infection after two doses of Pfizer's vaccine offered 94 percent protection for up to six months after vaccination, relative to about 80 percent protection from vaccination alone, and 65 percent protection from infection alone. 

People with hybrid immunity "are likely the last group that really needs the booster because they really had three exposures," Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, immunologist at New Haven, Conn.-based Yale University, told the news outlet. That's because the infection exposes the body to more than just the spike protein that the vaccines target, she added. 

However, this doesn't mean people with hybrid immunity won't ever need a booster shot, as protection may still wane over time, experts said. 

Nearly 8 million people had received a booster as of Oct. 9, according to CDC data

Currently, recipients of Pfizer's vaccine who received their second dose at least six months ago and are ages 65 and older, have a job that increases their risk of infection, or have a condition that puts them at high risk of severe COVID-19 are eligible to receive a third dose. 

The FDA is set to discuss emergency use authorizations for booster doses of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's shots during advisory committee meetings set for Oct. 14-15.

Editor's note: This article was updated Oct. 11 at 2:23 p.m. CT.


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