What Central Illinois health leaders are saying about the COVID-19 booster shot recommendations

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Wednesday, U.S. health officials recommended booster shots for most American adults as early as Sept. 20.

While COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective in preventing serious illness or hospitalizations, CDC studies show some other data points are starting to slip.

“Vaccine-induced protection against SARS CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of CDC.

This has caused U.S. health leaders to recommend a COVID-19 booster shot for American adults eight months after they have received the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine.

“The booster is just what it sounds like, a booster to provide another vaccine, a third vaccine, on top of the first two to enhance the immune system,” said Dr. Steve Hippler, chief clinical officer for OSF Healthcare.

Hippler said research shows an additional shot is especially important for those considered immunocompromised.

“Specifically those on immunosuppressant drugs– and again that came from information that people on certain drugs or immunosuppressed didn’t mount as quite as robust of an immune response,” Hippler said.

As for logistics, pharmacists at Alwan Pharmacy said a Sept. 20 target date gives them time to prepare.

“We’ve been doing the vaccinations now for a year period, so we are very well versed in getting done,” said Michael Blessman, pharmacist in charge at Alwan Pharmacy.

Doctors said changes in vaccination plans should not be met as a negative.

“What we see when there are changes is not a sign of no confidence. We should be very confident that they’re reacting to the latest news and latest information and pivoting as necessary to keep us all safe,” Hippler said.

Blessman said when available, booster shots should come from the same company as your first two doses.

Hippler also said the most important message is that people continue to be vaccinated.

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