Dr. Fauci Just Shared 7 Key Points About Boosters
If you got an mRNA COVID vaccine—that's Pfizer or Moderna—you will be eligible for a booster shot on your eighth month anniversary. That means for certain groups, September 20th. Who gets theirs first? And what happens if you jump the line? And do the boosters undermine the vaccine's effectiveness? Here with answers to your booster questions is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who spoke with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. Read on for five points that could save your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Dr. Fauci Said the Boosters are Necessary For This Big Reason
"It was very clear that the protection that the vaccine was affording with regard to infection and mild to moderate disease was diminishing," said Dr. Fauci. "It still had very high protection against severe disease leading to hospitalization and death, but the direction was going wrong. In other words, you were seeing an attenuation over a period of time, particularly in the context of the very troublesome and highly transmissible Delta variant. That's superimposed upon the experience that Israel was seeing. And they're usually about, you know, a month or more ahead of us in the vaccine, as well as in the experience with the Delta virus and the Delta variant. And they were starting to see not only in attenuation and protection against mild to moderate disease and infection, but there was starting to see an uptick in the hospitalizations, particularly in vulnerable people. And because of that, we felt it was much better to stay ahead of the curve."
Dr. Fauci Said the Boosters Increases the Antibody Protection to a "Very, Very High Level"
"It's very clear right now that when you give someone a booster and we've done studies, it increases the antibody level that's associated with protection to a very, very high level. And what happened just today, which came out from a report from the public health organization in Israel, that they're already starting to see an effect from their boosters, their third shot, that it is helping very much in blunting that diminution in protection. So it was the right call. I mean, it does not mean that the vaccines are not protective. They still are really quite protective. We want to stay ahead of the game to make sure that the durability of that protection continues. We still feel the most important thing. Andrea is to get unvaccinated people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can. And for those who have been vaccinated, this recommendation for a booster is to stay ahead of the virus and to make sure that the protection is high and prolonged."
Dr. Fauci Said Breakthrough Infections Are Going to Happen
Mitchell pointed out that this was among the first times Fauci has said you could get severe COVID after vaccination. "Right now, when you look at this country and the vaccinations that have been given for the most part, there's a high degree of protection against hospitalization and death," said Dr. Fauci. "What we're seeing with the Delta variant, a breakthrough infections, which you'd expect to see in a situation in which you have a vaccine, that's not a hundred percent protective. If you're vaccinated in general, those breakthrough infections are mild to moderate, sometimes even asymptomatic. But what we're starting to see over time is these signals that over a period of time, it's starting to attenuate and come down. So even though we're protected now, rather than saying, let's wait until we start seeing significant disease and hospitalizations, let's get ahead of the curve. Let's get a booster to those people. Generally around eight months after the original regimen to prevent the kind of thing that you're talking about. We're not seeing it now. We want to prevent it. And I believe that's good public health policy to make sure that we prevent something from happening prior to having to react to something happening."
Dr. Fauci Said Don't Jump the Line to Get a Booster. It May Not Be as Effective if You Do.
"I wouldn't say that it's dangerous" to get your booster shot before eight months, said Dr. Fauci, "but one of the things that we've learned from an immunological standpoint, that if you get a prime and then a boost for two, three to four weeks later, you get the maximum effect of a late boost if you give the immune system a chance to mature over a several month period. So when you do that, you want to make sure that people don't all of a sudden decide, they're going to go out, get their second dose, you know, a few weeks ago and now say, well, I want to get my third dose. Now. I think that might defeat the purpose. And that's the reason why we landed at eight months. When you look at the first people who got their vaccine, it was in January and interestingly, and this works in the favor of doing it correctly and properly is that those were the people who needed it."
Dr. Fauci Said These People Need the Booster First
"The most vulnerable, the elderly healthcare workers who were at risk people in nursing homes" are the people who need the booster first, said Dr. Fauci. "So if you look at the eight month timeframe picking, the second third actually is the third week in September, September the 20th, you have right about eight months from that original group. And to do it in an orderly fashion, you can do the cadence of depending upon when you got your vaccine regimen, was it February, March, April, and then you push back then. I mean, obviously what's going to happen given human nature, is that people are gonna say, well, I don't want to wait for them. They're going to do it. There's not much you can do about that, but recommend the window of when it should be done."
Dr. Fauci Said Don't Trust Antibody Tests to Reveal Your Protection Against Delta
Dr. Fauci says it doesn't make sense for us all to get antibody tests and see if we're protected after vaccination because it's hard to prove "whether or not they actually reflect the complete complexity of an immune response and the protective correlative immune response. We do know from some studies that we did that as the antibody level went up, there was a higher degree of protection. But I think if you rely on an antibody test to make a decision, it's going to be very complicated and there may be some missteps. And that's the reason why the best way to do it is to do it on the basis of a time element and not on an antibody test."
Dr. Fauci Said These Boosters Don't Undermine the Vaccine Effectiveness
"Let me say it here very clear: the most important thing we really do need to do is to get those 90 plus million people in this country who are eligible for vaccination, to get them vaccinated," said Fauci. "Because even though it's important for the vaccinated people to continue the level of protection that they have, it is as, or more, important for the unvaccinated people to get vaccinated in the first place. So let's not confuse those messages—it is absolutely critical. People should not look at this and say, well, does that mean the vaccine doesn't work? No, the vaccines work; the booster that we're talking about is making sure that that protection, which is very high, lasts for a long period of time at a high level. The vaccines do work. And because of that, we've got to get the unvaccinated people vaccinated."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.