FLASHBACK: CDC’s Jay Butler Said COVID Booster Shots Could Lead to More Serious Side Effects in July

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that US public health authorities will recommend as early as Wednesday a COVID booster shot eight months after one becomes fully vaccinated.

“The move is being driven by both the highly contagious [Delta] variant and preliminary evidence that the vaccine’s protective effect starts dropping within months,” the report says.

Just one month ago, however, CDC deputy director of infectious diseases Jay Butler stated during a media briefing that a third dose may come with even more serious side effects.

“The risk of some of the rare side effects that have been reported have been greater after the second dose and even just the local reactions, which are fairly common, are more common after second doses as well,” he said. “So we’re keenly interested in knowing whether or not a third dose may be associated with any higher risk of adverse reactions, particularly some of those more severe, although very rare, side effects.”

It is currently unclear if this week’s expected announcement will address the matter. But there are other downsides to a push for booster shots, aside from potentially greater side effects.

For example, the AP cites “experts” who claim that booster shot messaging “could muddle the public health message and undercut the continuing drive to win over the tens of millions of Americans who are hesitant to get their first COVID-19 shots.”

Formal approval of the COVID vaccines has yet to take place—they are still only authorized for “emergency use”—but the AP notes that the Pfizer vaccine could receive approval “in the coming weeks.” Booster shots will not be distributed en masse until the vaccines are approved.

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