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Is the Pfizer booster shot necessary to beat the Delta variant?

July 13, 2021


Pfizer’s recent push to add a booster shot to its COVID-19 vaccination protocol seems to be at odds with what many people understood about the drug’s effectiveness. And, as William Brangham reports, it has also prompted real concern among healthcare professionals. Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California joins to discuss.

Five Facts

  • Who is Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo and what is her background?
  • What is a booster shot?
  • Why does Pfizer believe an extra booster might be needed? Why do some people disagree?
  • When does some evidence suggest the first two doses of vaccine start to become less effective?
  • How does Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo suggest the U.S. and big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer should move forward? 

Focus Questions

Reporter William Brangham and expert Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo describe two ways that the United States can approach vaccinations from this point forward. Do you think it’s better to use large but limited numbers of vaccine doses to provide boosters or vaccinate more people around the world? How come?

Media literacy: This segment refers to data about vaccines, including that this one vaccine is “93 percent effective.” What do you think that number refers to? Is that clear in the piece? To learn more about data literacy, see this article. To learn more about what efficacy means with COVID vaccines, check out this Daily News Lesson.

For More

  • For more on the arguments against focusing on booster shots right now, see this article.
  • For more of PBS NewsHour’s coverage on recent COVID-19 news, see these videos.