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FDA Reviewing If Second COVID-19 Booster Needed As New Research Shows 4th Dose Of Pfizer Vaccine Provides Short-Term Protection

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - With predictions of another COVID surge coming this fall, if not sooner, federal vaccine advisors are meeting to consider plans for vaccine boosters. A second booster is already cleared for people with health complications and those over 50, but new research shows that protection doesn't last long.

New research from Israel says a fourth dose of the Pfizer vaccine only provides a short-term boost of protection that drops after a month. It's one of several studies being reviewed by the FDA panel.

There's heated debate about the need for a second COVID booster from the FDA vaccine advisors.

"We should expect a lot of evolution going forward and we should have methods to keep up with this evolution," Trevor Bedford, PH.D. said.

Among those on the panel asking questions is Philadelphia vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"You'd like to know to what extent these viruses are drifting," Dr. Offit said.

The head of the advisory group opened the meeting with concerns about waning vaccine protection, and new variants that could bring more COVID surges. This as experts wonder if the current wave of cases in other parts of the world could impact the U.S. soon.

"It's a little early to say; I would look to the UK as the best predictor of what may be in store for us. And there are some concerning signs," Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Céline Gounder said.

Here too, while the numbers overall are down significantly, COVID cases are up 50% in Philadelphia over the past two weeks. That prompted a new warning from city health officials who say people should consider wearing masks inside public places.

"We always have to be ready to pivot and make sure that we are willing to put the mitigation factors back in place if necessary," Dr. Delana Wardlaw said.

Dr. Wardlaw and her twin sister Elana McDonald have been on the front lines in North Philadelphia fighting the pandemic for two years.

The African American community has been especially hard hit by COVID. The sisters say a big part of their mission has been education.

"Let us explain to you why it is important of you to understand how you can be affected by this virus and why this vaccine is so important to help you," Dr. McDonald said.

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