Coronavirus Vaccine Updates: Pfizer meeting with top US health officials about COVID booster shot

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Pfizer is meeting with top U.S. health officials Monday to discuss the drugmaker's request for federal authorization of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, as President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser acknowledged that "it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely" that booster shots will be needed.

The company says a third dose could dramatically increase immunity to new variants, though the CDC and FDA says a booster isn't needed at the moment.

"I think Pfizer is in the business to earn money, and they want to get more money out of people," Ardsley resident Rosanne O'Reilly said. "So they are trying to get people to get booster shots early."

Vaccine hesitancy remains an issue though, and if there's a struggle to convince people to get both doses, three could be even more difficult.

"I'm just not ready for it yet," Hartsdale resident Sue Koerner said. "I just, there's not enough data yet, really."

But legions of medical experts respectfully disagree with that viewpoint, and doctors say the data shows the vaccines provide thoroughly effective protection. Further data shows coronavirus infection rates are currently on the rise, due in large part to the highly contagious delta variant, and it's people like Koerner who are getting sick.

"For that percentage of the population that remains unvaccinated, they are at a very high risk of getting infected and potentially having these severe complications," mayoral public health advocate Dr. Jay Varma said.

Many believe recommendations regarding a booster shot should come from respected medical authorities and not the company manufacturing the vaccine.

"You want an objective source to look at this very carefully, and I think the government will do that," said Dr. Sandra Kesh, with Westmed Medical Group. "And the ACIP, the American Community of Immunization Practice, which is really our gold standard of immunization and recommendations, will look very carefully at the question as well."

Here are more of today's headlines:



US health officials flag "small" reaction risk with J&J COVID-19 vaccine
Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine may pose a "small possible risk" of a rare but potentially dangerous neurological reaction, U.S. health officials said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement it has received reports of 100 people who got the shot developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune system disorder that can cause muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis.

NJ residents to have digital access to vaccination record
New Jersey residents now have a digital option to view their COVID-19 vaccination records. The "Docket" app only provides coronavirus records, but plans are underway to expand it to other immunization records.

The app is not considered a vaccine passport, which appears to be why the state chose it, although it appears it can act as one. Docket is currently used in Utah and will be rolled out in other states.

Gov. Murphy urged vaccinated New Jerseyans to download the free app to get quick and easy access to state records.

4 more mass vaccinations sites shutting down in NY
Four more mass vaccination sites will cease operations as part of the ongoing downscaling and focus on localized vaccination efforts. The sites at Jones Beach, the Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls, Plattsburgh International Airport, and SUNY Polytechnic Institute - Utica will cease their operations following vaccinations on Monday, July 19. Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced the mass vaccination site at the New York State Fairgrounds will relocate from the Expo Center to the Arts & Home Center, effective Wednesday, July 14.

"As our vaccination efforts continue across the state, we are continuing to target communities that have lower vaccination rates and using every tool at our disposal to make the vaccine accessible to every New Yorker," Cuomo said. "In line with this strategy, the downscaling of our mass vaccination sites is proceeding as planned and we are shifting resources to where they are most needed, so we can get more shots into people's arms and defeat this virus once and for all."

Masks no longer required for vaccinated people in NYC courts
Chief Judge Janet Difiore announced Monday that judges and court employees who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to wear a mask in public areas of the courthouse, including inside court rooms.

NYC Restaurants Week Returns
After a year and a half, NYC Restaurant Week is back. It's now open for reservations that are being scheduled for five weeks from Monday, July 19, through Sunday, August 22. Restaurants had the option to participate for one, multiple, or all five weeks.

Coronavirus infects vaccinated leader at Florida condo site
A vaccinated Miami-Dade county commissioner who helped other local officials in Surfside following the collapse of a condominium building announced that he and his chief of staff tested positive for COVID-19. The news release from Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jose "Pepe" Diaz said he and his chief of staff Isidoro Lopez, who also received a vaccine against COVID-19, came down with flu-like symptoms earlier in the day and later tested positive for the virus.

UK lifting all lockdown restrictions
All remaining lockdown restrictions in England will be lifted in a week despite a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Monday. He said it was "the right moment to proceed" as schools close for summer vacation but urged people to "proceed with caution." Johnson said although risks of the pandemic remain, legal restrictions will be replaced by a recommendation that people wear masks in crowded places and on public transport. Nightclubs and other venues with crowds should use vaccine passports for entry "as a matter of social responsibility," he added.

"This pandemic is not over," he said. "This disease, coronavirus, continues to carry risks for you and your family. We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday July 19 to life as it was before COVID."

COVID cases increase in US
The US is now averaging more than 16,000 new COVID cases per day, an increase of more than 21% in just the last week. In nine states, infections are up by more than 50% over the past two weeks. One hospital in Missouri had to borrow ventilators, they've been busy treating the most COVID patients they've seen since the beginning of the pandemic. Doctors there say they're putting more people on breathing machines than ever before and that they've seen a dramatic rise in severe cases among younger, seemingly healthier people. In Mississippi, only one-third of the population is fully vaccinated. Nationwide, daily vaccinations are down 45% from last week.

NY among 25 states reporting rise in new cases
New York is among 25 states reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases. Health experts cite the highly infectious delta variant for a 16% jump in new cases in the past week. That's coupled with a 44% drop in people getting vaccinated each day. It's apparent that wide swaths of the country don't want the vaccine, even though public health officials say the data is overwhelming.

"You're going to start seeing mini surges that are localized to certain regions and, as I've said, you don't want to see two Americas, one that's vaccinated and protected and yet another that's unvaccinated and very much at risk," director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, said.

NYC vaccination rates by zip code
There are about a dozen communities in the New York City area where three out of four people have not been vaccinated yet. 7 On Your Side Investigates created a map where the darkest colored zip codes have the most vaccinated New Yorkers and the lightest, the least.

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