HOUSTON - There has been a lot of talk about mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines, and some people are even taking the matter into their own hands and secretly getting a third shot. That is certainly not recommended!
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine are offering a study, under the guidance of doctors, to find out if a booster is even necessary.
Doctors say getting vaccinated against COVID-19 offers protection for the near future, but it’s still unclear how long that protection will last. That's why Baylor College of Medicine is staying on top of it with a trial to closely monitor what happens with a booster.
"We will be looking at antibody responses, not only against the Wuhan strain but against a Delta variant and some other variants of interest or concern. And how well a vaccine works may well correlate with how much antibody is present. We're waiting on data to support that, but early results suggest that that's the case. And so the antibody responses will really be a surrogate for how well we think the booster dose might work," says Dr. Robert Atmar, Professor of Infectious Diseases with Baylor College of Medicine.
He's monitoring the results at Baylor College of Medicine and is working with Dr. Joseph Hyser, who also works at BCM.
"It's a fun way to be a participant in types of science that I'm not directly involved in research-wise. And as a scientist myself, I think it's a way of being involved. I can't be involved in COVID clinical work, and so therefore I decided to volunteer as a participant in this clinical trial," says Dr. Hyser.
Dr. Hyser's first vaccines were with Pfizer, then he got a booster of Moderna in May.
"With the first one, I experienced similar types of side effects that have been reported with the first dose, pretty much nothing with the second dose. One day after the second dose, achy, a little bit of soreness in the arm, that type of thing, and that only lasted a day. And so then with the booster, I experienced something very similar," says Dr. Hyser. He also experienced muscle and joint aches with all of his vaccines, but feels it was well worth it.
For this study, participants must be fully vaccinated with either Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
"What we're doing, is giving them a booster dose, after drawing blood from them, and then checking their antibody response two to four weeks later, and then three, six, and twelve months later. And the whole goal is to try and understand how people who received these different vaccines respond to the booster doses," says Dr. Atmar.
Dr. Atmar says they hope to demonstrate the safety and figure out if it matters what vaccine you received initially, and which one might mix best with it, should a booster be needed. He says it gave him a boost knowing that he was doing something to make a difference during this pandemic and hopes it can help others who feel the same way.
"I do think sometimes people feel a little bit helpless like they're the boat on the ocean, and there's no engine, they're just being pushed by the waves of this pandemic, and sometimes being involved in these clinical trials gives you a sense of purpose and a sense of doing something. If you're not a researcher, you still can do something in terms of the medical side of this to help end it," says Dr. Hyser.
To learn more about this study and other COVID vaccine studies at Baylor College of Medicine, call 713-798-4912.
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