Nalzaro: No need for a ‘booster’ yet

·4 min read

EVEN before we can achieve the so-called herd immunity, some are already planning to have a third shot of the vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). They are calling it a “booster” to make sure they don’t get infected with the virus. San Juan Rep. Ronnie Zamora admitted that he got his third and fourth shots after initially being vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine. This was the vaccine administered to members of President Duterte’s Presidential Security Group (PSG). Zamora said his third and fourth shots used the US-made Pfizer. Sinopharm, which was developed and manufactured by China’s Sinopharm Group, has not been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

But do we really need a “booster”? “No, as of this time,” said US top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview with CNN news.

Fauci said that based on current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA, “there is no need for a ‘booster’ shot. There is no need for Americans to get a Covid-19 vaccine booster shot.” Fauci made this clarification after Israel started offering a third Pfizer shot to adults it considered vulnerable.

However, Fauci said research is currently being conducted if this guidance will change. He cautioned that current guidance did not imply it would not be changed later. But that does not mean that researchers will stop. There are studies being done now, he said, about looking at the possibility of if and when we should be boosting people.

Here in the Philippines, we will not be talking about getting a “booster” shot because we are still far behind our target of vaccinating 70 percent of the total population. Many have yet to be vaccinated. Although the hesitancy rate has been declining, the problem is we don’t have enough supply of the vaccine.

The latest Pulse Asia survey conducted last June 7 to June 16 showed that 43 percent of Filipino adults said they would get vaccinated against Covid 19, a 16 percent increase from the February 2021 survey. Well, this only shows that more and more people have been convinced on the benefit they can get once vaccinated. The same survey showed that the number one reason why some are still hesitant to get the vaccine is the safety and uncertainty of the vaccine.

And talking about the safety of the vaccine, here is another disturbing report about the side effect of the vaccine. After the “blood clot” as a side effect of the British-manufactured AstraZeneca and the rare heart inflammatory from Pfizer which uses mRNA, here is another side effect of the Janssen vaccine developed by the US Johnson & Johnson. Although, Janssen, a single-shot vaccine, has not been administered here in the country, the Philippine government had already ordered this brand and this will be included in this month’s shipment.

The US FDA updated its label for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to include information about the “increased risk” of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). The US CDC defines GBS as a “rare autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis” that most people fully recover from.

GBS is a “very rare” condition, medical experts explain. I remember former Gov. Lito Osmeña and fellow radio commentator Choy Torralba suffered this disease several years ago. But they were able to recover.

But we should not be afraid of the side effects of these various vaccine brands. These are isolated cases. For those who have already been infected with Covid-19, there is still a big benefit to getting vaccinated. A study with the original Covid-19 virus showed that vaccination after infection produces roughly 100 percent times more anti-bodies than infection alone, and 100 percent of people who were vaccinated after infection had protective anti-bodies against the feared delta variant.

According to medical experts, the different brands of the Covid-19 vaccine are not perfect, but they produce strong anti-bodies and T cell responses that offer a safer and more reliable means of protection than natural immunity, especially with new variants on the loose. Busa, pabakuna na gyud mo. (Therefore, get vaccinated already.)

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