[ Question ]

What's the status of third vaccine doses?

by Alex_Altair1 min read4th Aug 202110 comments

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Covid-19
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People seem to think that getting a third mRNA vaccine dose, or "booster shot", substantially increases immunity after 4ish months from your second dose.

  • Is it currently "illegal" to get one, or is it just the policy of all current pharmacies and vaccine distributors to refuse to give them?
  • Is there any shortage of vaccines in the US at this point? Would getting a booster shot counter-factually cause another person to get a dose later?
  • Is there chance that booster shots will become commonly available in the next month? Is it even in the Overton window of things that politicians are bothering to think about?
  • Lastly -- because I assume the answer is no -- is there any reason to think that getting a third shot of a different vaccine would be biologically dangerous?
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Whelp, to answer my own question, this is above the fold on the NYT right now. 

The World Health Organization called on Wednesday for a moratorium on coronavirus vaccine booster shots until the end of September to help all countries vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations, appealing to the world’s wealthiest nations to address dramatic disparities in global vaccination rates.

... 

Scientists have still not come to a consensus on whether booster shots are necessary. But as worries emerge about continuing pandemic waves and future lockdowns, an increasing number of countries like Germany, Israel and France are preparing to give part of their population booster doses, or have already started.

Studies have indicated that the immunity generated by the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines is long-lasting. Researchers are still working to understand recent Israeli data suggesting that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine declined in efficacy months after inoculation.

(Granted, the WHO is not the CDC.)

But is there any evidence that the US will actually start exporting doses if they're unused, or will they just sit around until they expire?

2scrafty4moThe US is currently donating doses to other countries in large quantities. Domestically, it has around 54m doses distributed but not used right now. ( https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations [https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations]). Some but certainly not all of those are at risk of expiration. If US authorities recommended booster shots for the general population then that would easily use up the currently unused supply and reduce vaccine exports.

Britain and Germany are already planning to do this, to some extent, as is Israel. https://www.timesofisrael.com/britain-germany-to-begin-giving-3rd-doses-of-coronavirus-vaccine/

I keep hearing about vaccines expiring in the US. If it’s useful, better to use it than to have it get thrown out.

Some people are suggesting to get a third of a different vaccine than you got before (e.g. if you got Moderna get Pfizer or J&J)… by “some” I mean I heard it on the All-in Podcast. It was either on the July 15th episode or the July 22nd episode. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/all-in-with-chamath-jason-sacks-friedberg/id1502871393?i=1000529038600

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This doesn't exactly answer your question, but from personal experience, when I got my jabs from Walmart, the website didn't seem to differentiate from first and second doses. That is, from the perspective of the appointment scheduling system, I seemed to get two "first" doses. And I didn't even get a vaccination card until I specifically asked for one and they went out of their way to look me up in the system. So I don't think there's anything stopping me from getting another jab if I wanted it, in practice. 

Similar experience - I got a J&J from a mass vaccination site in April, then a Pfizer from Walgreens a few months later. Walgreens didn't ask me anything about whether I'd been vaccinated before.

Not an answer, but just my epistemic status: I heard that they're good to get 6 months after the 2nd dose, so I'm planning to get another dose in ~2 months.

Meta comment: You can leave comments on questions as well as answer, so since this is not an answer you could move it into a comment.

Oops, I made the same mistake. I didn't realize there was a separate option for adding comments instead of answers. 

Good point Alex. I've moved my and the other Ben's answers to comments.