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St. Luke's holds off on fully backing new COVID booster

Right now, studies have only been done on mice. Infectious disease doctors with St. Luke's want to see the data on how effective it is on people.

STROUD TOWNSHIP, PA — Primary care physicians with St. Luke's University Health Network in Monroe County have begun giving the latest COVID-19 booster to patients.

The booster has components of the original strain of the COVID-19 virus and the more recent omicron strain.

"If it's supposed to, it will prevent some infections, maybe many infections, and it will prevent the most severe consequences in the most vulnerable population, but we can still expect, as we've been saying, that there will be some breakthrough infections in people who get this, but hopefully, they'll be mild," said Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, senior vice president of medical and academic affairs at St. Luke's.

Dr. Jahre says vaccines are the best thing that's happened in the fight against COVID-19, saving millions of lives. But when it comes to backing the latest vaccine, Jahre wants more data about how effective it is on people. 

"This vaccine was approved currently with data that has only been done in mice. It goes without saying that humans and mice are different. Yes, it is true that the influenza vaccine is based on mice data, but we have 50 years of experience with the influenza vaccine," Dr. Jahre said.

A graph showing vaccination numbers for Pennsylvania reads:

  • 84 percent of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated,
  • 32 percent got the first booster,
  • 6 percent got the second booster.

It shows that with the first two COVID boosters, more people got the first one than the second.

Because the third booster just came out last week, there isn't any data on how many people have gotten it.

"If you had previously had an infection, particularly since June," Dr. Jahre said. "You already have what essentially amounts to a booster because you've gotten an infection almost certainly with BA4 or BA5. So if you've had that, had some sort of vaccination, then you've had hybrid immunity."

Dr. Jahre says human studies for this latest booster are going on. He advises people who are generally healthy to hold off on getting the updated booster for now.

Watch more stories about the coronavirus pandemic on WNEP's YouTube page.  

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