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COVID-19 Update 3/30: FDA Authorizes Second Booster

March 30th, 2022 | 4 min. read

By Steve E. Bishop, M.D.

COVID-19 Update 3/30: FDA Authorizes Second Booster

On this week's COVID-19 update, Dr. Steven Bishop discusses the FDA's decision to authorize a second booster shot of Pfizer or Moderna, and whether you should get the additional booster. Watch the video below or read on for the recap. 

FDA Authorizes Second Booster 

The FDA approved a second booster for adults who want to get one for Pfizer or Moderna.They approved a second booster at least four months after your last or most recent vaccine.

So that would be anyone who gets a second booster, that'll be your fourth dose of a vaccine since the initial doses were rolled out last January and February in 2021.

Should you get a second booster? 

The question really becomes, do I need to get a booster vaccine? Is that something that you need to do? Is that something I need to do?

And I think it's a little bit unclear at this point. The FDA has approved a booster dose. The CDC and most of the other bodies who make recommendations about these things have not weighed in yet other than to say, "If you want to get one, it's okay, but we're not officially recommending for or against it at this point."

The FDA has made that dose legal to give. It's acceptable to give. It's permissible, but there's no official recommendation from any body of physicians or medical providers or anything saying, "Yes, get it."

So it leaves us in a little bit of a quandary. I think it's a little bit of an easy decision for some people and a harder decision for others.

If you are over the age of 60 and especially if you've got a problem with your immune system, right? You're under treatment for cancer, you have some chronic illness that you're being treated for with medicine that suppresses your immune system, you're taking steroids, anything of that nature, I think it makes perfect sense. Go ahead and get your second booster dose.

I think that's fine. We know the protection from the vaccines does wane over time, so I think it's okay to do that.

If you are either very healthy, even if you're a little older, or if you're under 60, it's a little bit more of a question. I think my personal recommendation for those people, this is me and what I'll be telling my patients is, I would wait a little bit.

These recommendations are very new. We didn't see a lot of data come out beforehand. I actually have seen no data come out publicly. The FDA did not use its usual committee process. They just approved it without the public committee, data, vetting, and all that sort of stuff.

They just said, "Okay, it's just fine to give it." So I would wait a bit unless you are in that older category and you're worried, or you've got an immune system problem.

If you're healthy, and especially, if you're under 60, I would hold off and wait. Let some more data come out. Let's see what recommendations actually do come out from the CDC, and from other bodies in terms of what you should do.

There's a nice article here that NPR put together and I think it would be a good one to review. It's got a nice balanced take on things.

Again, if you're not at serious risk for bad disease from COVID and, or you're younger, I would wait a little bit, and here's my logic.

  • A) We don't have a lot of data on these second booster doses and how beneficial they are.
  • B) The second thing is, what happens if we get another significant wave, especially as we get into the fall and winter again?

Are we going to have a third booster or a fifth dose approved by then? I don't know. And so if you got your second booster now, and the protection only lasts for a couple of months, then that protection runs out by the summertime.

And then we're dealing with another wave in the fall, which is pretty normal for respiratory viruses, right? Fall and winter are respiratory virus seasons. If we get another wave then, and we don't have another booster ready for people, then you're sort of out of luck.

I would actually wait a bit until maybe the summertime, or the early fall. Maybe when you're thinking about getting your flu shot, get your booster dose. Then if you're wanting to get a second booster and think of it as combining it with your annual flu vaccine.

So I would just wait. That's my personal recommendation, and I think that makes the most sense to me clinically. In the absence of a significant data set, in the absence of any recommendations from the CDC and other deliberating bodies on this, I think that's probably the best thing to do if you're someone who's thinking of getting a second booster at this point.

Unless, again, you fall into one of those categories where you're at very high risk due to age, comorbidities, or you've got an immune system problem. So if you're in one of those categories, go ahead and get your booster. That's fine because there's still some transmission of the virus going on right now, right?

But if you're not in those categories, I say wait. I say wait till the late summer, early fall, September, to get to your second booster.

That way you've got a lot of that good protection going into the respiratory virus season, and so it's not gone by the time that comes around.

Cases continue to decline, but expect another increase at some point. 

So that's the big update today. Other good news, overall COVID numbers continue to come down, which is great, and that's what we want to see. I suspect again like I was just saying, we will see another tick up again at some point.

Again, it's the natural sort of course of viruses. They ebb and flow over time, and we will undoubtedly see another increase again, probably in the fall would be my guess, late summer-fall. And that's when you'll really want that extra protection from a booster.

Probably don't need it so much right now, again, unless you're in one of those super high-risk groups. So take it in the fall if you're an average healthy person if you want to get it. Otherwise, let's wait it out a bit.

When is the next update? 

Remember, we're doing this every two weeks right now. We will skip next week, and then the following week will be back on. So our next COVID Live Update will be April the 13th at one o'clock. Until then, I hope everybody stays safe. Have a great and wonderful couple of weeks, and we'll see you soon. Bye-bye.

Steve E. Bishop, M.D.

As a board-certified internist and concierge doctor in Richmond, VA, Dr. Steven Bishop is passionate about helping his patients improve their lives through better health. He helps healthy adults adjust their lifestyles as they age and helps patients with complex medical diseases manage and improve their health.