One of America’s leading voices on vaccines says the shot isn’t for everyone
One of America’s leading public health experts is saying that some Americans should not get this year’s COVID-19 vaccine, and he will skip it himself.
Paul Offit, M.D., a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) leading panel of experts on vaccines and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital, told The Messenger that he would not recommend a healthy American under the age of 70 to receive a booster this year.
He even said that if a healthy 30-year-old came to his office asking for the shot, he would advise them against it.
“I think the goal of this vaccine is to keep people out of the hospital, keep them out of the intensive care unit and keep them from dying. That’s the goal. That was always the stated goal. It remains the goal,” Dr. Offit explained. “So who is it that’s getting hospitalized? Who is it that most benefits? People who are elderly, people who have multiple comorbidities, health problems that put them at high risk, chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. People who are immunocompromised and pregnant people. I think that those are the ones who most benefit.”
He said that while other people may not face any harm from the vaccine, as significant side effects from the shot have repeatedly been shown to be rare in studies, it is not the best use of resources.
Dr. Offit, who is 72, says he will not get the shot himself, and went on to tell The Messenger that he is in good health and has received two vaccine doses, a booster and a previous infection — and believes he is now safe from the virus.
The new class of boosters for Americans as young as 6 months and older are set to be available to Americans this week. The FDA issued approval for the Moderna and Pfizer shots Monday. A meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an outside panel of advisors to the CDC, is scheduled for Tuesday.
The approval is near-universal, recommending all Americans to receive the shot no matter their current health.
Dr. Offit fears that “this is a poor use of resources and would put the U.S. out of line with much of the rest of the world”.
He said that if he was in charge of the FDA and CDC that: “We would focus on high risk groups, and that we would have a strategy and advertising strategy to really explain why it is that those groups need [the booster].”
Dr. Monica Gandhi, M.D., MPH, a public health expert from the University of California, San Francisco, agreed, saying the rollout of these new shots should be targeted.
“If I were on ACIP, I would vote for (only) selected populations getting the boosters,” Dr. Ganchi told The Messenger. “Specifically because even though other people may want it… I think it’s just kind of a time-old principle in public health to target your interventions at those who are most at risk for a disease, or at least severe disease. Those are those populations.”
She believes that by targeting everyone with its vaccine advocacy, the CDC is actually making it less likely someone who really needs the new booster gets it. She points to relatively low uptake of the bivalent booster last year among elderly people, with less than half getting the shot.
Instead, the CDC should target messaging to the elderly and at risk to make sure they are aware of the dangers COVID still presents to them.
Dr. Gandhi says while the new booster should be made available to all U.S. adults, it should only be recommended to high risk groups such as the elderly and immuno-compromised.
Written by Mansur Shaheen and published byNewsbreak ~ September 11, 2023