Health, News

Lynn Health Center CEO discusses COVID-19 vaccines, booster and FDA approval

Dr. Kiame Mahaniah is the CEO of Lynn Community Health Center. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN ― The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, and the Pentagon announced shortly after that it’s preparing to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for the military.

While all three vaccines have met the FDA’s standards for emergency use, the Biden administration said this FDA approval should “give added confidence that this vaccine is safe and effective.” 

Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC) Chief Executive Officer Kiame Mahaniah said he thinks there were a number of people waiting for this approval, estimating about less than 1,000 in Lynn. 

“We should see a little bump in vaccinations now,” Mahaniah said. “I think we might see more mandates too.” 

From a public health perspective, Mahaniah said he thinks a mandate in this case makes sense, but he does not endorse all mandates. 

While the LCHC does not require its staff to be vaccinated, Mahaniah said about 90 percent of them are ― and those who aren’t are required to get a COVID-19 test every other week. 

With the Delta variant now accounting for around 98.8 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Biden administration announced last week that it will begin offering COVID-19 booster shots at the end of September. 

Mahaniah said the scientific reason for a booster is because it is believed the immune response fighting the vaccine is slowly losing its effectiveness over time. 

“When you first get the vaccine, maybe it defends you 98 percent of the time, and then six months later, maybe it’s only defending you 80 percent of the time,” Mahaniah said. “You need a booster to get back up.”
The FDA is currently conducting an independent evaluation to determine the safety and effectiveness of a booster dose of the vaccines, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is planning to review this evaluation to determine whether it will recommend a third booster vaccine. 

If a third booster shot is approved, the CDC said, the goal is for people to start receiving it eight months after they received their second dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot. 

In regards to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the CDC said it is likely that people who received this vaccine will need a booster as well, but that data is not available yet. 

Mahaniah said if the CDC and FDA both say a booster shot is a good idea, then he recommends it as well. 

Mahaniah said the LCHC can handle providing the booster to its patients, but whether mass vaccination sites and other clinics will offer it is still up in the air. 

If a booster is recommended, he said the LCHC will work with the state and city to determine the best way to go about ensuring people are aware of the booster and can schedule an appointment to receive it. 

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