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UVA doctor explains who is eligible for the Pfizer booster

Pfizer vaccine
Pfizer vaccine
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Dr. Bill Petri, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Virginia, discusses who is eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster that was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“It’s very well specified by the CDC what the immunocompromising conditions are. There are very specific things like you’re on a dose of Prednisone, 20 milligrams or more a day,” said Dr. Bill Petri, UVA infectious disease specialist.

Other conditions include pregnancy, chronic lung diseases, and undergoing chemotherapy which causes a depressed white blood cell count.

Places that administer the vaccine are aware of what conditions make someone eligible for the shot. People are often asked to prove their qualifying condition.

“They would actually be breaking the federal law to knowingly give the vaccine to someone who is under 65, who’s not immunocompromised, is not a health care provider, first responder, or teacher,” Petri said.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) say the Pfizer booster is safe and effective.

“Side effects we’ve seen around the world impact one out of 100,000 people, while one out of 500 Americans has died of COVID-19, so that’s a fantastic benefit of the vaccine versus minimal risk,” Dr. Petri said.

The shot’s safety and efficacy led into an expansion. When the ACIP recommended the booster only to those 65 and over and with underlying conditions, Dr. Walensky, the director of the CDC, expanded the shot to first responders, healthcare workers, and teachers.

Dr. Petri says health professionals are weighing risks versus benefits for different demographics, explaining why everyone is not eligible at this point.

While those studies continue, Pfizer is the only booster shot approved by the FDA.

“Moderna has applied to the FDA for approval for their booster. J and J has done clinical trails that show that their booster works to provide protection.” Dr. Petri said.

He says he believes Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are close behind Pfizer in approval.

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