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Will Vaccinated People Need Booster Shots Now? ASU Expert Weighs In

Joshua LaBaer
Arizona State University
Joshua LaBaer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending a third dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for some immunocompromised people. The agency is also considering recommending booster shots for all adults.

Dr. Josh LaBaer with ASU’s Biodesign Institute said in a  vaccination town hall event Tuesday that’s not an indication COVID-19 vaccines aren’t effective.

He said the highly infectious delta variant of COVID-19 has led to a rise in cases and a booster shot may help prevent breakthrough cases among people who were first vaccinated several months ago.

"People who are first responders, people who work in clinical care got their doses back in December and January, so it's now been eight months," LaBaer said. “If you look in their bloodstreams, you will see a little bit of a drop of antibody compared to if you measured them right after they got their vaccine. But it’s not as much as you think. They still have pretty good levels, even eight months later.”

LaBaer pointed out the large majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people.

"So even since January, we have plenty of good protection against hospitalizations," LaBaer said. "All of that said there may be some advantage to a booster shot which would kind of kick the antibody levels up." 

He said the most important step to containing the virus is still to get more people to take first and second doses. Just 46% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.