If you’re young and healthy, you may not need a COVID booster shot despite what the CDC says, according to no less an authority than the CEO of Moderna.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone above age five get booster shots, Stéphane Bancel begs to differ. Even though his company stands to continue profiting off its mRNA vaccine, it’s best to think of the boosters as annual flu shots, he said.
“I think it’s going to be like the flu,” Bancel told investors Monday in comments reported by the Daily Mail. “If you’re a 25-year-old, do you need an annual booster every year if you’re healthy?
“You might want to… but I think it’s going to be similar to flu, where it’s going to be people at high-risk, people above 50 years of age, people with comorbidities, people with cancer and other conditions, people with transplants,” he said.
“Bancel (CEO of Moderna) noted that not everyone is likely to need an annual booster. “I think it’s going to be like the flu. If you’re a 25-year-old do you need an annual booster every year if you’re healthy?“
— Jewhadi™ (@JewhadiTM) October 18, 2022
Even pro-vaccine skeptics have questioned why young, healthy people and small children need regular booster shots since they are at very little risk of suffering significant illness. Booster backers have long claimed kids should be fully vaccinated so that they won’t pass the virus on to more vulnerable adults, but a Pfizer executive acknowledged last week to European lawmakers that her company’s vaccine was never tested for preventing transmission.
Young men and adolescent boys face an elevated risk of heart inflammation known as myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s shots. But the CDC says the same group faces an even higher risk of myocarditis from COVID itself.
Still, the CDC on Wednesday recommended the new omicron boosters for kids as young as 5. Children ages 5 to 11 are eligible for Pfizer’s booster, and kids ages 6-17 are eligible for Moderna’s. Pfizer’s new boosters were cleared for people ages 12 and up in September, while Moderna’s were authorized for adults ages 18 and older.
“We encourage parents to consider primary vaccination for children and follow-up with an updated booster dose when eligible,” Dr. Peter Marks, head of the FDA’s vaccine division, said last week.
The new “bivalent” boosters are designed to protect against the original strain of coronavirus as well as the omicron B.A. 4 and 5 variants. The White House is urging Americans to get their updated booster at the same time as their flu shot.
The autumn booster shot campaign has started slowly, with only about 15 million doses administered to date, according to CDC data. That’s just 5% of the eligible population.
“People are now tuned out, trying to forget it and move on with their lives,” Dr. Thomas Russo, an infectious disease expert at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, told SELF. “They don’t want to hear about COVID anymore.”