FDA expected to authorize COVID-19 booster shot any day

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could authorize a COVID-19 booster shot for immunocompromised people any day now.

If authorized for emergency use, the booster shot would be a third dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. There are studies being done for a second dose of Johnson & Johnson, but we will likely see the Moderna and Pfizer boosters authorized before a J&J booster.

News10NBC spoke with Dr. Ann Falsey, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"We are doing, at the U of R, a number of booster studies,” Falsey said. “We’re doing work with Pfizer on, you know, just regular old booster shots and that data looks very encouraging. We know that it’s safe, we just don’t know at what point you need it."

The amount of time between the second dose and the booster will likely differ from person to person based on the individual’s specific conditions.

"It may depend on your risk factors for responding to the first series," Falsey said. "Immunologically, the longer you wait sometimes the better immune response you actually get."

“Immunocompromised” includes people who have received organ transplants, people who are HIV positive, and those who are undergoing chemotherapy among others.

Many people reported harsh flu-like side effects following their second dose. Dr. Falsey explains the booster shouldn’t be quite as bad.

"When we’re talking about boosters now, you know, it’s six months to a year later,” Falsey said. “What we are finding, at least in the small groups that we’re looking at, is that the third dose, when you space them out that far, doesn’t seem to be worse than the second dose."

As far as people without compromised immune systems, Falsey said he agrees with Dr. Anthony Fauci that the booster will likely eventually be recommended for everyone.

The booster could be authorized for emergency use as soon as this weekend.