UPDATED 7:26 AM PT – Wednesday, January 19, 2022
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently suggested a booster for healthy children and adults is most likely not needed.
On Tuesday, the specialized agency’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said there is no evidence to currently support the idea that adolescents in good health need an extra dose of the COVID- 19 vaccine. During the news briefing, Swaminathan assured more research is needed to determine who needs the boosters and who doesn’t.
“The aim is to protect the most vulnerable, to protect those at highest risk of severe disease and dying,” she explained. “Those are our elderly populations, immuno-compromised people with underlying conditions, but also healthcare workers.”
Swaminathan also mentioned the decrease of vaccine immunity over time against the Omicron variant. She confirmed that a group of experts are set to convene this week to discuss boosters and further determine what populations should be considered in receiving them.
However, booster shots have not been completely ruled out according to Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program. He said there is no answer just yet as to how many more shots people need; potentially two or three more depending on future variants.
Their remarks come about two weeks after the CDC approved booster shots for kids aged 12 to 17. Additionally, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, called on Americans to “step up their game” and get boosted. He warned the possible deterioration of the two initial shots of the MRNA vaccine as Omicron takes the country by storm.
The Chief Medical Advisor to the U.S. President also said at the very least a shot will be needed every year. Furthermore, Dr. Fauci is pushing for one last shot, which would be a universal vaccine that would potentially protect against all variants after most people have already gotten three shots.
Dr. Paul Offit, member of the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee, stressed the need for boosters, but admitted they may only offer protection for a couple of months before needing another.
“I think you’re going to be less protected against mild disease and so then the question becomes, if you get a booster dose will (that) likely increase your protection against mild disease?” he questioned. “But then the questions becomes for how long? Will that only be for three-months, six-months, nine-months a year? We’ll see.”
Meanwhile, there is reportedly some concern that too many boosters can affect the immune system in a way that can weaken the effectiveness of future shots.