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You asked, we answered: booster shots, excelsior pass and vaccine eligibility for children

More booster shot guidance is expected next week
covid vaccine
Posted at 11:12 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 23:12:36-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “J&J is going to take a little longer because they got approved later and their studies are just winding up right now,” Dr. Nancy Nielsen said.

Dr. Nielsen said a study that tests three different doses of Johnson and Johnson booster shots is ongoing. She said it’s close to being complete, but it will take time after it’s submitted to the FDA.

“Let’s wait a little while, there’s nothing urgent about this,” Dr. Nielsen said.

To put the timing in perspective, Pfizer submitted their data to the FDA seeking booster approval for those 16 and older exactly one month ago. The FDA and CDC will meet on Friday, September 17 to discuss the data and a recommendation can be expected sometime next week. So, who will be eligible?

“They may say we’ll only do it for people over 50 or over 60 in addition to the immunocompromised,” Dr. Nielsen said.

Dr. Nielsen said booster eligibility could follow the same pattern as vaccine eligibility earlier this year, with one key difference. Vaccine supply problems that popped up in the early stages of rollout are not anticipated once boosters are approved.

“They [PFIZER] assured me that there will not be a supply problem, that they have been ramping up, that they have plenty of supply to do the booster shot,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.

But why do we need booster shots? Dr. Nielsen said after getting any vaccine, antibodies drop off over time. She said a yearly COVID-19 dose was a consideration but is not necessary right now.

“This virus mutates also, but it’s mutations, to date, haven’t escaped the protections of vaccines,” Dr. Nielsen said.

For those with an excelsior pass, you may have noticed that they expire a year after you were vaccinated. But as of now, this doesn’t mean getting another shot, renewing it is as easy as going online and re-submitting your information.

“The excelsior pass will be extended as long as it seems scientifically true that you’re protected, that’s the whole point.”

A state health department study shows that over time, vaccine effectiveness against infection does not decrease by a significant amount. As long as that stays true, its likely you won’t need another dose to renew your pass.

“What they’re trying to do is respond to the science, how long do we know those antibodies are going to be protective.”

Pfizer is expected to submit data for children ages five to eleven by the start of October and for toddlers 6 months to 5 years by the end of October.