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UVA Health weighs in on timing for next booster

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 9:24 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Another COVID-19 booster shot is likely coming soon, as another variant starts making waves in Europe. The FDA could authorize booster number two as early as the first week of April.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County are still seeing low coronavirus levels, but doctors say the time to roll up your sleeves again could come sooner than later.

“The name of the game here is to try to get ahead of the virus itself and expand your immunity if you have that ability to before we have a problem with another variant,” Doctor Taison Bell with UVA Health said Monday, March 28.

Dr. Bell says you should get any version of the vaccine for which you are eligible. The FDA is meeting Tuesday to authorize the next shot for people 50 and older.

“We’re seeing overseas that a few countries have already started doing this,” Dr. Bell said. “And I think based on kind of what we’re seeing so far, I can anticipate that at least at some point, we’ll have seniors authorized to have a fourth dose.”

He says Israel did a study looking at a little over a million people ages 60 and up and compared data of those who had a third dose versus those with a fourth. Bell says in that trial of a million, only 200 or so had a case of severe disease.

“They did show that there is a three to fourfold benefit from having that fourth dose,” Dr. Bell said. “So a benefit is a benefit. But we’re talking about low numbers that’s in and of itself encouraging.”

That fourth jab could be expanded as soon as next week to younger people, too.

“The general trend has been to to have about a five month wait,” Dr. Bell said. “In the trials, you saw that the protection against symptomatic infection did start to wane at about the four three to four month mark or so.”

Bell says some people are already eligible for a fourth dose, including those who are immunocompromised. He says they should get the shot now.

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