Pfizer seeks FDA authorization for fourth COVID vaccine doses for people 65 and up

Los Angeles County health officials are issuing an advisory to at-risk residents and those in high-impact communities who test positive for COVID.

Individuals should ask their doctor if they qualify for outpatient treatments such as COVID antiviral medications, officials said.

Meanwhile, one vaccine maker is looking into getting some Americans another booster shot.

Drug maker Pfizer is requesting emergency use authorization for another booster for people 65 and older. The FDA will look at data to see if a fourth shot is needed.

"I'm a big proponent of second boosters or fourth shots. If you still want to protect against infection in long COVID, I think we may need that booster," said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Some 58 million vaccine eligible Americans have yet to get their first dose. Concerns are growing about another surge.

New state numbers show an average of 3,100 new COVID cases daily and nearly 2,300 hospitalized. And the virus is claiming the lives of about 100 Californians each day.

Staff at Orange County's Providence Mission Hospital reflects on 2 years of treating COVID patients
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Two years after treating their first COVID-19 patient, staff at Providence Mission Hospital reflected on their journey Wednesday.

In L.A. County, hospitalizations have been hovering around the 500 mark for the past few days.

"This pandemic continues and it's critical we pay attention to public health guidance," said Dr. Richard Besser with the Robert Wood Foundation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than one-third of wastewater sampling sites have seen a spike in the virus in the last two weeks.

And accumulating data suggests the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which initially had a weaker response has held up. The data shows its effectiveness doesn't decline as quickly as the two mRNA options.

"When we look at vaccine efficacy, we need to look at two different parts of the immune system. One is antibody response and the other one is cellular response," said Dr. Kenneth Kim, a principal investigator for the vaccine and founder of Ark Clinical Research.

He said the vaccine's DNA delivery system appears to induce a long-lasting effect on the adaptive part of the immune system.

"The T-cell response is probably what is providing more long-term immunity and memory than just simply antibody levels," he said.

For now, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not readily available in the U.S. but in countries where vaccines need to be distributed quickly, the one-dose shot remains an attractive option.
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