Is it time for a COVID vaccine booster shot or not? Debate elevates

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — A recent report from an international group of scientists is causing more controversy in the debate surrounding COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

The opinion piece published in the medical journal “The Lancet” is authored by 16 experts, including two vaccine reviewers with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who announced they’ll step down this fall.

According to the report, current evidence does not appear to show a need for boosters in the general population. Experts concluded the shots are still working well despite the delta variant, especially against severe disease.

The message highlights the contentious debate surrounding the need for COVID-19 booster shots. Meanwhile, Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday the state’s plan to administer boosters to all eligible Coloradans this fall if the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree.

“We continue to follow the science and see where the risk appears and who would potentially benefit most from these things,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention at UCHealth.

UCHealth has been offering booster shots to staff and other Coloradans considered high-risk for several weeks, well ahead of the Sept. 20 goal set by the Biden Administration.

“We looked at the data that’s been published or is in pre-print, looking at the length of time when individuals start to have decreases in their protection,” Barron said. “I don’t think we necessarily have the luxury of time to say oh, we’ll have the data in six months and then we’ll say we should have given the vaccine after all. Because we’re in the midst of it now.”

Other hospital systems like HealthONE are taking a more conservative approach and have not yet provided boosters to staff.

“Let’s see where the data takes us, let’s get a little bit stronger information on the effectiveness of a booster, what it does to antibodies, what it does to cellular immune response and really see if it’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. Scott Joy, chief medical officer for physician services group at HealthONE-HCA.

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