Chicago's top doctor says she doesn't foresee 4th booster shots for general public anytime soon

Ravi Baichwal Image
Thursday, October 28, 2021
4th booster shot only for severely immunocompromised, doctors say
Chicago's top doctor wanted to stamp out a worry that unlimited booster shots are here to stay.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With CDC guidance on boosters seeming to change daily, Chicago's top doctor wanted to stamp out a worry that unlimited booster shots are here to stay.

"I don't think there is a fourth booster coming soon for the general population," Dr. Allison Arwady said. "Also anybody who is in this like moderately to severely immunocompromised we want you talking about your vaccines with your specialist doctor."

SEE ALSO | Immunocompromised may need 4th dose of COVID vaccine: CDC

That immunocompromised group represents less than 1% of the American population.

"If you are worried yourself, yes, we want you to get a booster if you were in the group," Arwady said. "But more important is people around you getting that first and second dose, because where we see breakthroughs, it tends to be in networks of people where not a lot of people have had that first and second dose."

Specialists at the UIC Medical Center say keeping public health messages simple and accurate is critical. A fourth jab only applies to those who, for example, are undergoing chemotherapy.

"We know the really severely immunocompromised people don't mount the same response to any vaccines, so it's really important to get that third dose and then the boosters at six months," said Dr. Susan Bleadsale, director of infection prevention at UI Health.

The infectious disease specialist says in 25 years, she's never seen such a communications challenge in public health as that surrounding vaccine efficacy. And that's why some messages bear repeating.

"We have more data and we have more science around it that is showing how effective it is in preventing hospitalizations and death," Bleasdale said.

Arwady said there are still some 750,000 people in Chicago who have yet to get even a first dose of the vaccine. It's a critical group to reach to help prevent future mutations of the virus here - and help us get through a second winter with COVID.