What to know about COVID booster shots coming soon

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- COVID vaccination booster shots are coming, most likely by next month, as the delta variant has brought a new sense of urgency to the fight.

The line for COVID testing stretched across the parking lot of the UC Merced Fresno Center across from Fashion Fair Mall Wednesday.

Only a few cars trickled through the vaccination line.

Dr. Kenny Banh says he wants to see the lines reversed so people have protection against the virus and stay out of hospitals.

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"If you look at the people in my ER today, if you look at people in the ICU they are by and far, overwhelmingly people who are unvaccinated," Dr. Banh said.

Despite this short line, the vaccination rate is increasing here in the Valley and across the country.

Tulare County public health director Karen Elliott says the delta variant has convinced some people who hesitated.

"The increase in infection, the increase in terms of seeing the severity of it has maybe made those who are on the fence determine to get a vaccine now," Elliott said.

But the vaccines won't last forever.

Studies from Israel show the level of protection against illness has waned for its older population who got vaccinated in January.

"The general understanding is that with all vaccines, you hit a level of antibody levels that over time will slowly fade," said Dr. Banh. "For most vaccines, you will eventually need a booster."

So the CDC and FDA announced Wednesday they're planning to approve a booster, starting the week of September 20.

They're still working out the details, but generally people who got Pfizer or Moderna can get a third shot eight months after their second dose.

They can expect similar reactions to their earlier shots, but finding available vaccines should be a lot easier.

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"We have ample supply," Elliott said. "We're in a much different situation than when the vaccine first came out."

People with compromised immune systems already qualify for a third shot 28 days after their second dose because studies have shown they need the third vaccination to get a better antibody response.
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