Vanderbilt to give booster shots to Moderna trial participants

vanderbilt university hospital
Posted at 7:24 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-20 20:24:27-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Vanderbilt's Moderna trial participants will soon receive a booster shot in continuation of the university's study on vaccines.

Dr. Spyros Kalams, the principal investigator in the phase three trials and associate professor of medicine at VUMC, said the trial is expected to improve the immune system of the study's participants. The study split the participants in half. Some received the Moderna vaccine about a year ago and others received a placebo.

Dr. Kalams said those who received the vaccine first have a slightly higher breakthrough rate than the placebo participants, who've all received the vaccine since.

"The infection rate was higher in the people who were farther away from their vaccine series," he said. Though, Dr. Kalams noted it was about 88 people of the 15,000 who received the vaccine who got sick and those cases were mild.

"The amount of infection is so low even several months after your full vaccine series, that the vaccines work incredibly well. So, we're really playing at the margins with these booster shots," said Kalams.

Still, the news comes as an FDA panel recommended Pfizer booster shots for people 65 years of age and older.

It came as a surprise to many after President Joe Biden announced he wanted booster shots available on September 20 as a part of his plan to fight COVID-19.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt, said the recommendation makes sense.

"They didn't want to take too much vaccination bandwidth away from trying to get people their first dose," said Dr. Schaffner. "That's really where all of this transmission is occurring. They didn't want to blanket things where all of the attention is on boosters when they didn't think they're absolutely necessary right now."