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Israeli survey finds Pfizer booster doses produce side effects similar to second dose

Most people who received a third dose reported a ‘similar or better’ feeling

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An analysis of data from a recent Israeli study has found that people who got a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine experienced similar or fewer side effects than they did following the second dose. 

Israel has started administering a third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine to people aged 60 and older in an effort to address a potential decrease in efficacy among those who were vaccinated early on. Of more than 240,000 people in the country that have received a booster dose, about 4,500 responded to a study carried out by Clalit Health Services, Israel’s largest health maintenance organization. 

Clalit Health Services said Sunday that 88% of respondents reported “a similar or better feeling” than they had following the previous dose. Commonly reported symptoms were pain or swelling at the injection site (24%). About 15% of people had other symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches, or fever. Less than 1% reported difficulty breathing or chest pains.

“Although we do not yet have long-term research on the efficacy and safety of the third dose, these findings continue to point to the benefit of immunisation now, in addition to careful behaviour by older adults and avoiding gatherings in closed spaces during these weeks,” said Professor Ran Balicer, Clalit’s chief innovation officer. 

U.S. hasn’t sanctioned third dose

The Delta variant continues to concern health officials across the globe, however U.S. officials have said they don’t believe third doses are necessary for the general public at this time. Still, Pfizer said it intends to meet with U.S. regulators to discuss booster dose authorization. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci said last month that Americans with weakened immune systems may be among the first to need a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. 

“Those who are transplant patients, cancer chemotherapy, auto-immune diseases, that are on immunosuppressant regimens, those are the kind of individuals that if there’s going to be a third booster, which might likely happen, would be among first the vulnerable,” Fauci told CNN.

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