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Pfizer, US Health Officials At Odds Over Need For Third COVID-19 Vaccine Shot

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- To boost or not? It's being debated at a meeting Monday night between vaccine maker Pfizer and federal health officials. Pfizer says a booster for its COVID-19 vaccine might be necessary. The feds are saying not so fast.

The World Health Organization says there's not enough evidence to show booster shots are needed, adding that Pfizer should concentrate on getting more people the first doses rather than greed.

Pfizer and federal health agencies are out of sync over booster shots.

Pfizer is meeting with U.S. health officials as it prepares to seek emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 booster shot designed to better protect people from variants.

"They have studies and data that we will go over with them to determine if there's anything there that we need to use," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Pfizer is using data from Israel that shows in certain populations there's a marked decline in its vaccine effectiveness, from more than 90% down to about 64% as the delta variant spreads.

Israel will now offer a third dose of Pfizer's vaccine to people who are immunocompromised.

The UK announced last month it might offer boosters too.

But the CDC and the FDA say, "Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time."

"So we await further guidance from the federal government on any need for booster doses," New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

New Jersey officials remain focused on getting more people the currently recommended vaccine as they see infection rates inch up among those who aren't vaccinated.

It's happening around the tri-state region and nationally, along with increasing COVID hospitalizations.

Over the past week, new cases are up 66% and infection rates are rising in more than three dozen states.

"It cannot be understated that these numbers continue to be driven by the unvaccinated," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said. "The delta variant, which is more highly contagious and more dangerous regardless of age group, is now the predominant strain of the coronavirus."

Also on Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health admitted it over-counted vaccinations by half a million doses. So not as many people are protected as previously indicated.

Officials say there was an issue with software and information from providers. That's now been corrected.

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