Representatives of pharmaceutical company Pfizer met with U.S. health officials this week about the possible need for a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine. But both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say Americans do not need a booster at this time.
Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine, says data shows the current vaccine regimen to be effective.
"There's two reasons one might need a booster shot,” Dr. Russo said. “First, if immunity wanes from initial vaccination. Second, if a variant arises that evades vaccine-induced immunity. And at this time, neither of those scenarios have come to fruition."
Russo says certain groups of people with compromised immune systems might be the first to need a booster at some point, but if and when that would be is unknown.
He says research indicates initial vaccinations will be good for at least a year, and remain effective against different strains of the virus, like the delta variant.
"If you're unvaccinated, this delta variant is extraordinarily infectious and it's going to find you," Russo said. "So it's absolutely critical for the unvaccinated individuals to start thinking about getting vaccinated at this time."
Across the state, roughly 55% of the total population has been fully vaccinated — that's 66% for adults 18 and up.
"New York state is doing well,” Russo said. “Of the large states, we're really towards the top of the list. However, our goal is to vaccinate everyone who's eligible at this time."
Russo says with the warmer weather and people spending time outdoors, cases of COVID-19 will likely remain low during the summer, but that could change for the cooler months in the fall when people are inside more.
"I predict that we're going to have an increase in the number of cases in the unvaccinated, so this is your window of opportunity to go ahead and get vaccinated," he said.
And for people who've already had COVID-19, Russo says adding the vaccine to the natural antibodies provides the best protection of all.