Questions remain about when to get COVID-19 booster vaccine as second doses are released

Governor Ron DeSantis wants to make one thing clear.

"Whatever anyone says, Florida is committed to the booster shot," he said Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, the Trump administration announced it will no longer hold the second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine set aside for those who received the first shot.

"Right now, if I get 250,000 doses, they’re holding another 250,000 doses for the booster shot," DeSantis said. "They’re now saying maybe we’re not going to hold all of that in advance."

The White House said it decided to release all the available vaccines because production is moving at a steady pace. But concern remains over taking this chance.

Dr. Thomas Unnasch with USF Health called it a gamble. He said if there isn’t 100 percent confidence in the production speed, it might be a better idea to hold onto the second doses.

LINK: COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

"What we do know, is that the protocol that was initially tried was very successful," Unnasch said. "You had 95 percent protection. So the issue is, do you really want to mess with success, right?"

On Monday, Steve Huard with the Department of Health in Sarasota said we shouldn’t be married to the idea the booster shot needs to come exactly 28 days after the first.

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"If there is a delay after the 28 days of getting the booster vaccine it will still be effective," he said.

Unnasch says we simply don’t know what the optimal spacing between doses is.

"We don’t know actually if you can get by with a half a dose on the first dose, and a half a dose on the first dose," Unnasch said. "All of those things are really unknown."

Moderna said its vaccine likely protects you for a year as long as people get a first shot and a second shot 28 days later. Unnasch says you simply can’t say the same for just one dose.

Governor DeSantis says he hopes to make a decision soon on whether Florida will or will not continue to hold back the second dose of the vaccines.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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