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Alabama Department of Public Health weighs in on Covid boosters, vaccines

WAAY-31 spoke with Dr. Karen Landers about how we can move forward in this pandemic.

Posted: Oct 15, 2021 7:13 PM

You could soon have your choice for COVID booster shots.

A health advisory panel on Friday endorsed a booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine, and it’s similar to the recommendation for Moderna’s vaccine. Booster doses of Pfizer began last month for people at high risk of complications from Covid-19.

The third dose of the Covid vaccine is for those who are immunocompromised, while the booster shot is for those who are fully vaccinated to help keep their immunity up.

WAAY-31 caught up with one man getting his third dose of the vaccine, who said he felt great just knowing he would have protection from the virus during one of the busiest times of the year. 

He said he understands Alabama is not where it needs to be in terms of folks getting vaccinated, and he hopes more people understand the risks are far greater without it.

"With the way it is now, you don't know what, when or where that you can come in contact with somebody who never was vaccinated," he said. "So, it's great to have it. Nothing wrong with it, to me."

More than 2 million people in Alabama have completed their vaccination, and so far, the state has administered nearly 4.4 million doses of the vaccine. 

A study by the National Institutes of Health has found that getting one manufacturer's vaccine, like Moderna's, and a different manufacturer's for the booster shot gave study participants the same or even higher amount of antibodies than getting the vaccine and booster from the same manufacturer.

But​ the Alabama Department of Public Health is warning residents to wait before jumping from Moderna to Pfizer or vice versa. Right now, the ADPH recommends staying with whichever brand you got first.

The NIH study was conducted with nearly 500 people and involved combinations of all three vaccines. State health officials said there needs to be additional data pulled from the study.

"There's really more information to come that has been studied and is being looked at, and further recommendations will be made as this data continues to be reviewed, but no recommendations to mix and match at the moment," said Dr. Karen Landers of ADPH.

Landers said she knows there's a lot of misinformation out there, which is why it's important to not react to everything one sees. She said she and other health leaders are meeting next week to learn more about NIH's findings.

State health officials say it's important people in Alabama stay vigilant in the fight against Covid-19, even as about half the state is now vaccinated. There are fewer than six weeks from the next major U.S. holiday, and the ADPH hopes to see more people vaccinated by then.

However, some residents remain hesitant. Landers encouraged residents to rely on scientific data, not opinion.

"We still have our control over our ability to get ourselves out of this pandemic, and that is by utilizing the tools that we have," Landers said. "Last year, we did not have vaccines. This year, we do."

Landers said ADPH will continue to educate people on how the vaccine helps more than hurts. She also said she hopes people will continue to take this pandemic seriously.

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