Coronavirus

What Ashish Jha said about the FDA approving Pfizer boosters for seniors, individuals at high risk for COVID-19

“I do expect that most Americans will end up getting a booster before the end of the year or certainly the early part of next year.”

Dr. Ashish Jha. Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe, File

The Food and Drug Administration may have only approved the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for senior citizens and individuals at high risk, but Dr. Ashish Jha said Thursday he still expects it’s just a matter of time before a third dose will be approved for all Americans. 

The dean of the Brown University School of Public Health told the “Today” show that in the short term, the groups that the FDA approved boosters for on Wednesday should be seeing the extra shots in arms “very, very soon.”

The doctor said he believes if boosters had been more broadly approved, which is what the Biden administration was advocating for, it would have been helpful in reducing infections across the country that are being driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

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“We do have some other tools,” Jha said. “Testing, indoor masking, as ways to keep the infection numbers low. But also, we don’t have that much data yet [on the vaccines’ efficacy over time] for young healthy people. And even if we did, most of them are not yet six months out. You have to wait at least six months, and you should wait six months by the way, you’re going to get a much better immunologic benefit if you wait six months.”

Over the next couple of months, Jha said more data will be gathered on how the vaccine is working over time in young healthy people. 

“My suspicion is, we’ll see what the data says, that they will need boosters,” he said. “And I do expect that most Americans will end up getting a booster before the end of the year or certainly the early part of next year.”

Jha said while it appears the United States has “turned the corner” on the summer surge, he is concerned by case increases still being seen in some states. 

“I worry that we’re not done,” he said. “But as a nation, I think the worst is behind us. At least for this surge.”

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