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Should Doctors Consider a 4th COVID Shot?

Israel is administering a 4th COVID shot to people with compromised immune systems. Health care workers are guinea pigs for an extra booster.
Should Doctors Consider a 4th COVID Shot?
Close up of doctor hands with covid-19 booster shot syringe showing thumbs up – concept showing of recommendation of 3rd dose vaccination for immune weakened people.

Last week I told you about my friend “Barry.” He is super smart and is a number cruncher. Within a few weeks of learning that there was a respiratory virus on the loose in China, Barry was plotting coronavirus curves. He alerted me to the likelihood that COVID-19 would turn into a pandemic based on his early calculations. Barry got his 4th COVID shot because he has observed rapid declines in vaccine immunity. Barry is way ahead of American public health authorities, but Israeli scientists are now administering a fourth shot to health workers, senior citizens and patients who are immunocompromised.

Israel and a 4th COVID Shot:

While public health officials are still trying to encourage Americans to get a COVID booster, Israel is starting to roll out its fourth shot. It should be at least four months after the third Pfizer/BioNTech dose.

The Israeli government is reporting preliminary results of a small study it started about a week ago with health professionals as guinea pigs. That seems fitting, since doctors are at the front lines of the Omicron surge.

The hope is that this fourth shot will prevent the 5th COVID wave from getting out of control. Early results are encouraging. Antibodies are five times higher and the fourth shot appears safe.

Testing the 4th COVID Shot on Themselves:

The decision to move forward with a fourth dose for people with a weakened immune system was challenging. That’s because there is virtually no data to demonstrate how effective a 4th COVID shot will be, or if there will be complications.

Nevertheless, Israel has been at the forefront of vaccinating against the pandemic. It was the first country to roll out boosters for vaccinated individuals. While this helped dampen the fourth wave, the country is now experiencing a fifth wave.

Public health authorities are hopeful that a fourth shot will help get Omicron under control. That’s because hospitals there are under siege. Influenza is rampant and Omicron is spreading.

Doctors As Guinea Pigs:

To determine if a 4th COVID shot will be helpful, researchers started a study on December 27th that involves 150 health workers. After all, doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and first responders are on the front lines in this battle against the latest variant. Many may be susceptible to Omicron even after two Pfizer shots plus a booster.

The new Israeli Prime Minister reported this week that:

“A week into the fourth dose, we know to a higher degree of certainty that the fourth dose is safe,”

Raising antibody levels five fold seems promising. The prime minister added this:

“This most likely means a significant increase against infection and … hospitalisation and (severe) symptoms.”

We will continue to track the Israeli research carefully and will let you know what is discovered. We will also be tracking the effectiveness of Pfizer’s Paxlovid. Israel has already received its first shipment of this oral antiviral medicine.

Some readers are also interested in a 4th COVID shot. Here is one person’s question.

How to Get a 4th COVID Shot?

Q. My husband had the Pfizer booster three months ago. He now wants to get the Moderna booster.

Is it safe to get another booster shot after only three months? If not, how long should he wait to get another booster? He has coronary artery disease and heart failure but no problems with weight or diabetes.
When would it be safe for him to get a fourth shot? We really do not want him to get COVID-19 or any of the variants.

A. As we described above, Israel has been at the forefront of COVID vaccinations. Health experts there are debating the pros and cons of a 4th COVID shot.

An expert panel there recommended that people over 60, immunocompromised patients and health care workers get another booster at least four months after their third Pfizer shot. Before rolling out this program countrywide, Israeli researchers are testing the additional booster on 150 health care workers.

Public health authorities in the US are not yet recommending a fourth shot. The CDC did state, however, that people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech shots initially could get a Moderna booster as the third shot. We don’t know if that will help your husband in his quest, or if that Moderna booster following a Pfizer-BioNTech booster would make a big difference.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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