More unvaccinated people still need first COVID vaccine, TN doctors say


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Booster shots for Americans who received the Pfizer vaccine are well underway. But many who got the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are waiting their turn for a possible booster.

For some who are receiving their Pfizer booster shot, it was a sigh of relief amid COVID-19 pandemic uncertainty.

“I felt — with my age — it’s probably better to have one more layer of protection,” Kent Campbell said.

However, thousands of Tennesseans are waiting for FDA and CDC approval of booster shots for Moderna and J&J.

“We call it a booster, or at some point, we may call it a third vaccination in a series; it’s really meant to get your immune responses back to up where they were, or even above where they were,” said Dr. Spyros Kalams, an Infectious Diseases doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Less than 50% of Tennesseans are fully vaccinated. Doctors say human action will determine the future course of the COVID virus.

“I think they’ll show exactly what Pfizer has shown, it’s that — we know that the immune response goes down a little bit — we see real-world, more hospitalizations over time amongst this group and we know that with a third shot those hospitalizations go down,” said Kalams.

To control the pandemic, doctors say they need more of the unvaccinated to get their first shot.

“So when there’s a lot of viruses out there, you are still safer getting the vaccine,” Kalams said. “If we ever get to the point with a number of infections that is very, very low, maybe that’s a point where we can start saying ‘well maybe you only need one shot, maybe your group shouldn’t get the vaccine’ — we are nowhere near that right now.”

J&J and Moderna vaccine boosters could come in a few weeks.

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