The Food and Drug Administration has authorized COVID-19 booster shots for the Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines and is set to decide on vaccines for children in their discussions over the next week.
Dr. Michael Osterholm feels that the decisions will help us take the next leap in the pandemic and joined News Talk 830 WCCO's Chad Hartman to discuss the upcoming decisions.
"We do see this waning immunity that occurs particularly with mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, over time after the initial two doses," Osterholm said.
Osterholm had thought that this would be a three-dose vaccine when it was first announced, but like everything with COVID-19, it has been what he calls "corrective science."
Some things won't be known until more information is collected, but the one thing he says doesn't need to be collected is safety.
"It's not about safety. We've asked and answered those questions with hundreds of millions of people now vaccinated. We know how safe they are," Osterholm said. "What we are trying to figure out is what dose should we use, when should the doses be administered by time."
When it comes to the decision from the FDA on mixing and matching booster shots, Osterholm thinks it's okay.
"I do think mixing and matching works just fine," Osterholm said.
As more reports come out for the current COVID-19 vaccines, Osterholm pointed out that there are several other vaccines still being developed that could be coming out any day now.
For him, he sees this as something exciting because they can only get better over time.
"I kind of look at these early vaccines as really good, but I also look at them as iPhone 1 when today we are at 12 or 13," he said.
With people getting upset over the constant change in recommendations from health officials and the CDC, Osterholm shared that change is something that should be seen as normal.
"What the public has to get used to is that these recommendations will change over time," Osterholm said. "That's a good thing. I call it 'corrected science.' We learn, we study it... and each time we get better at it."
Being optimistic that more vaccines will continue to come, Osterholm shared that we will have to wait and see if they become a yearly occurrence like the flu shot.
Another decision that is set to come from the FDA next week is the authorization of the vaccine for kids ages 5-11 years old.
"I think the challenge that we have… is how do you turn a vaccine into a vaccination," Osterholm said. "That's what's important. You can have all the vaccines in the world, but if it's not in someone's arm, what difference does it make."
Osterholm shared that there has been a limited increase in vaccinations among 12-17-year-olds, as they are still the lowest vaccinated age group, with only 48.6% being fully vaccinated.
The White House has been preparing for when the vaccine is authorized for the next age group, and he shared that they are making efforts to have the shots available to everyday pediatricians.
Osterholm shared that getting children vaccinated will help keep them safe and that it will play a part in keeping cases down, especially in the school system.
One argument that those who remain unvaccinated have is that they do not need the shot because they have already had and recovered from COVID-19.
While Osterholm doesn't discredit protection from natural infection, he shared that it isn't known how long that protection will last, as with general coronavirus infections, patients can get sick over and over again.