Booster shots: What we’ve learned—and what we still don’t know

This week, the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee had a two-day meeting to discuss booster shots for Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines. From the outside, these meetings may have appeared fairly straightforward: the committee voted unanimously to recommend booster shots for both vaccines. But in fact, the discussions on both days were wide-reaching and full of questions, touching on the many continued gaps in our knowledge about the need for additional vaccine doses.

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12 Long COVID stats that demonstrate the importance of vaccination

Though it’s now been well over a year since the first Long COVID patients were infected, there is still so much we don’t know about the condition. For example, we don’t know a very rudimentary number: how many people in the U.S. are struggling with Long COVID. We also don’t have a clear, detailed picture of Long COVID symptoms, or how these symptoms arise from a coronavirus infection, or how they impact the daily lives of Long COVID patients.

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The data problem underlying booster shot confusion

Why has the booster shot decision-making process been so confusing? Why don’t the experts agree on whether booster shots are necessary, or on who should get these extra shots? From my (data journalist’s) perspective, the booster shot confusion largely stems from a lack of data on breakthrough cases.

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U.S. moves to approve booster shots despite minimal evidence

This week, the federal government announced that the U.S. intends to provide third vaccine doses to all Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. This booster shot distribution will start in September, with adults becoming eligible once they hit eight months after their second shot. Many epidemiologists, vaccine experts, global health experts, and other scientists have criticized the decision.

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