COVID-19 booster shots become the new topic of discussion among students


Tribune News Service

Teen volunteers are participating in a Kaiser study that could accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine’s potential use in young people. Photo courtesy of Dreamstime/TNS

Phiona Smith, Writer

With in-person school resuming for the 2021-2022 school year, COVID-19 cases and vaccinations are on the rise. Originally, Broward county started off with less than 50% of vaccinated residents during July, now having about 71% of vaccinated residents. More specifically, 56% of Florida’s 12+ population and 60% of Broward County’s 12+ population are fully vaccinated, meaning the rates of vaccination are growing rapidly.

Although vaccinations are increasing, those still unvaccinated are infecting one-another and vaccinated individuals, causing mutations to develop and cases to rise. Therefore, booster shots are an initial follow up vaccination after the first two doses of their original vaccination.

Currently, COVID-19 booster shots are awaiting authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for individuals who are immunocompromised. If authorized, any individual who has already received two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be eligible for a booster shot eight months after their second dose of the original vaccination. Those who are considered high risk and/or immunocompromised would be first in line based on the fact that they were first to receive the vaccine in early 2021.

President Joe Biden announced COVID-19 booster shots on Aug. 18, concluding that a third shot would help to fight off affliction of the virus. Booster shots were scheduled to be, but were not, administered on Sept. 20 due to an ongoing debate between the FDA, CDC and Biden administration.

A majority of FDA panel experts voted against giving a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot to recipients ages 16 and older, shutting down Biden’s initial proposal. This proposal has also sparked conflicts within the FDA, causing resignation among two top officials, Dr. Marion Gruber (the Director of the FDA’s office of Vaccines Research and Review) and her deputy Philip Krause, due to a disagreement with the Biden administration’s position. Reports said the two officials were leaving out of resentment over Biden’s plan to roll out the COVID-19 booster shots before officials could approve it.

“It will make you safer, and for longer, and it will help us end the pandemic faster,” President Joe Biden said in a Sept. 15 speech. “This is no time to let our guard down. We just need to finish the job with science, with facts, and with confidence.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor has supported the idea of booster shots as well as President Biden’s COVID-19 plan. Being that COVID-19 cases are getting worse and worse, many especially feel booster shots are an effective method to continue the protection of fully vaccinated individuals as well as work to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I definitely feel like ever since school opened back up, COVID[-19] cases have risen, causing more and more need for these booster vaccination shots,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Alexandria Senior said.

Many experts argue there isn’t enough data to decide on whether COVID-19 booster shots are necessary, causing Biden to face setbacks within his COVID-19 approach. In the midst of the booster shot debacle, Biden’s approval rating has dropped to a record low for his presidency.

With the recent announcement of possible COVID-19 booster shots, many students are considering whether or not they would partake in this supplementary dose.

“Booster shots would help the general student population keep their anti-bodies up. Keeping us safe from whatever virus or viruses are contagious. Keeping more students in school and learning,” freshman Liana Melendez said.

The Biden administration is still hoping to roll out COVID-19 booster shots sometime this fall. For more information on COVID-19 booster shots, click here.