Vaccine Central

Community Health Network doctor questions need for booster shots

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Pfizer, Moderna and now Johnson & Johnson: All three have released data supporting the need for boosters.

The extra shot in the arm, they say, leads to higher antibody levels thus offering better protection against COVID-19. 

But, Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive at Community Health Network, disagrees. More antibodies, he says, do not necessarily translate into greater protection. It’s more complicated but in a good way.    

“There’s something called memory B-cells and memory T-cells,” Yeleti told News 8. “Another way to think about it is in your body you have some basic armed forces and militia walking around kind of taking care of things. When the coronavirus hits you it opens up the SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team and the SWAT team suddenly storms in. So, the SWAT team is sort of waiting behind the scenes. You don’t see them, but when you need them, bam, there they are.”

Yeleti likens antibodies to an army’s first line of defense. If booster shots are given, or given too soon, it’s likely those memory B-cells and T-cells that will further protect against the virus will fail to activate.

He also says just because someone tests negative for antibodies doesn’t necessarily mean they are at risk of infection. It may just be those memory B-cells and memory T-cells are hard at work.

However, Yeleti does recommend, as per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, boosters for those who are immunocompromised, and 65 and older.

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