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Health officials say too few people are getting boosters as Pfizer pushes to expand eligibility

Pfizer is pushing to make its COVID-19 booster available to everyone, but those already eligible aren't in a rush for their third dose.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pfizer is pushing to get its COVID-19 booster shot authorized for all adults but so far, those who are currently eligible aren't rushing to get their third dose. 

We're not seeing the same enthusiasm for COVID-19 booster shots as we did for the first rollout of the vaccine. Health officials say it could be a big problem. 

Let's connect the dots

The booster has been available for adults 65 and up since the end of September. According to the CDC, only 36% of seniors have received the extra dose. 

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VACCINE PROTECTION WANES OVER TIME

That has health officials worried because protection from the vaccine doesn't last forever. Immunity wanes with every month that goes by, and it's now been nearly a year since many older folks got their first and second rounds. 

Pfizer has submitted early results of a booster study in 10,000 people to make its case that it’s time to further expand the booster campaign. The study concluded a booster could restore protection against symptomatic infection to about 95%, even as the extra-contagious delta variant was surging. Side effects were similar to those seen with the company’s first two shots.

HIGHER RISK FOR OLDER ADULTS

While many breakthrough COVID-19 cases aren't severe, the risk is higher for older adults. They're more vulnerable to the virus and are more likely to be hospitalized from a breakthrough case. 

Some doctors speculate that expanding eligible for the booster may actually help with protecting more seniors, even though they're already eligible. 

BOOSTER AWARENESS

Many older adults may not even realize they can get a booster right now. Dr. Anthony Fauci says authorizing the shot for all adults may help clear any confusion surrounding booster eligibility, and could convince more people to roll up their sleeves for the third time. 

Contact Sarah French at Sarah@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

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