ROCHESTER, Minn. - Today, the Mayo Clinic began offering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine boosters to eligible patients and staff following an emergency use authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration.
Gregory Poland, M.D., infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, addressed questions and concerns about boosters and vaccinations.
"On the one hand, we have given 368 million doses - you heard me right - of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S," said Dr. Poland. "There has never, in my four decades as a vaccinologist, been a vaccine as highly scrutinized like this. And where we have this much data inside 18-19 months. On the other hand, we have people anxious to go out and get doses of various things where we do not yet have efficacy and safety data. And a third group, that no matter all of these data, think it's not safe enough and don't want to get a vaccine."
Dr. Poland said managing the pandemic has been more difficult due to misinformation and lack of trust in scientific expertise.
The FDA is recommending the Pfizer booster for individuals 65 and over, people who are at high risk for COVID-19, and people with frequent occupational exposure.
Dr. Poland reminded us that the pandemic is not over and it must be looked at on a global scale - but just a personal one.
"This is a we, not me, situation - to the extent that this virus continues to propagate throughout the globe and in the population," said Dr. Poland. "We will, not might, we will see the continual evolution of viral mutation into variants, even distinct strains. As we talk, there is a whole host of them that we're keeping our eyes on - that we're very concerned about."