Booster Shot or Not?


Is it time to get a booster shot for your Covid-19 vaccination?

The CDC says not until later in the fall. They say you have to wait at least eight months after your second Covid-19 shot. They plan to begin widespread booster shots on September 20th. (At least that’s what they say on their website today!)

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal by Stephanie Armour and Jared S. Hopkins, “Federal regulators are likely to approve a Covid-19 booster shot for vaccinated adults starting at least six months after the previous dose rather than the eight-month gap they previously announced, a person familiar with the plans said, as the Biden administration steps up preparations for delivering boosters to the public.”

“Data from vaccine manufacturers and other countries under review by the Food and Drug Administration is based on boosters being given at six months, the person said. The person said approval for boosters for all three Covid-19 shots being administered in the U.S.—those manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and partner  BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson —is expected in mid-September.”

I gave up trusting the CDC guidelines about February of this year when they flip-flopped their recommendations to suit the teachers unions. But there is evidence of wide-spread failure of the vaccines to protect the vaccinated from mild disease. The Mayo Clinic announced studies that estimated the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine at only 47% and the Moderna vaccine at 75% after eight months. I have personally spoken to many vaccinated individuals who have tested positive for Covid, although nearly everyone has had a mild course of the disease.

With those statistics in mind, my hospital began providing booster shots recently to all staff and staff spouses by the following eligibility:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Organ transplant recipients taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or those taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response.


Anyone with one of the above criteria qualifies for the booster shots. All others will have to wait until the CDC releases the booster shots to the general population. Since I qualify under these criteria in two categories, I got my booster shot this week. They warned me I might have side effects, but I only experienced the usual arm soreness for about 48 hours.

I have been a strong advocate for vaccination from the beginning. I recognize there are some individuals who probably should avoid the vaccines, especially if recommended by their physician. But for everyone else, vaccination is the best way to lower your risk of serious illness and even death.

If you’ve had your two shots already, I would recommend you get the booster shot as soon as it is available, unless your first two shots were only recently completed. Then it is probably best to wait six months. The purpose of the third shot is to boost the declining immune response over time, so getting it early defeats that purpose.

Vaccination is the best way to resume a normal lifestyle – at least as normal as the politicians will allow. But either way, you will have the peace of mind knowing that Covid is no longer the serious threat it was before.


Zero-Covid Unrealistic Goal


Is it realistic to expect us to eliminate Covid entirely? This seems to be the goal of government policies like mandatory masking and vaccinations.

Jay Bhattacharya and Donald J. Boudreaux give us their answer in The Wall Street Journal. Dr. Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine at Stanford and Mr. Boudreaux is a professor of economics at George Mason University. They call eradicating the virus a fantasy. They say governments and compliant media have used the lure of zero-Covid to induce obedience to harsh and arbitrary lockdown policies and associated violations of civil liberties.

They tell us that countries like New Zealand, Australia, and especially China have most zealously embraced zero-Covid. China’s initial lockdown in Wuhan was the most tyrannical. It infamously locked people into their homes, forced patients to take untested medications, imposed 40-day quarantines at gunpoint, and restricted domestic travel – while still allowing international travel.

New Zealand began one of the most onerous lockdowns in the world on March 24, 2020. They sharply restricted international travel, imposed business lockdowns and closures, prohibited going outside, and officially encouraged citizens to snitch on neighbors. In May, 2020, having hit zero-Covid, New Zealand lifted lockdown restrictions except quarantines for international travelers and warrantless house searches to enforce lockdowns.

Australia banned international travel, closed schools, occasionally separated mothers from premature newborns, brutally suppressed protests, and arrested anyone for wandering more than three miles from home. New Zealand, Australia, and China celebrated their claimed success and then lifted their lockdowns.

With the return of Covid, the lockdowns also returned. Australia’s current lockdowns in Sydney are enforced by military patrols. Strict warnings are given by health officials against speaking with neighbors. When Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the U.K. said “The U.K. must learn to live with the virus”, New Zealand’s minister for Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins, responded, “That’s not something that we have been willing to accept in New Zealand.”

But is this realistic thinking?

Eradicating this virus right now from the world is a lot like trying to plan the construction of a stepping-stone pathway to the Moon. It’s unrealistic,” says Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

What is the historical record concerning eradication of infectious diseases? These authors tell us the world has successfully eradicated only two diseases in history – rinderpest and smallpox. Rinderpest is a disease found only in even-toed ungulates. That leaves smallpox as the only disease in humans ever to be fully eradicated by mankind. Even the bacterium responsible for the Black Death – the 14th century outbreak of bubonic plague – is still found in isolated places, causing infections even in the U.S.

To be sure, the eradication of smallpox was an impressive achievement. Smallpox is caused by a virus 100 times as deadly as Covid. However, SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) is carried by both humans and animals, while smallpox was only carried by humans. To eliminate Covid would also require the elimination of dogs, cats, mink, bats and other animals. The smallpox vaccine is incredibly effective at preventing infection and severe disease, even after exposure to disease, with protection lasting 5 – 10 years. The Covid vaccines appear to be far less effective at preventing spread.

The authors say smallpox eradication required a concerted global effort lasting decades and unprecedented cooperation among nations that seems unreasonable to expect today. We can’t even get full disclosure from the Chinese about the origins of the virus much less full cooperation and disclosure about the infections in their own country. The authors say, “The consistent failure of government officials to recognize the harms of lockdowns – often citing the precautionary principle – disqualifies Covid as a candidate for eradication.”

What is the alternative to zero-Covid?

The authors say the only practical course is to live with the virus in the same way that we have learned to live over millennia with countless other pathogens. What is needed is a focused protection policy to help us cope with the risk. There is a thousand-fold difference in the mortality and hospitalization risk posed by the virus when comparing the old relative to the young. Now that we have good vaccines to protect the most vulnerable, the best course of action is to offer the vaccines to the vulnerable everywhere, but not the failed lockdowns.

This should not be unfamiliar territory. We live with countless other hazards in our world and adapt to these conditions. Influenza typically claims the lives of over 40,000 Americans annually and in some years many more. Yet only 60% of the vulnerable population and less than 40% of the rest typically get vaccinated – and no politician calls for mandatory vaccinations or masking. Automobiles cause over 45,000 fatalities annually, but no one would suggest eliminating motor vehicles. Drownings and electrocutions could be eliminated by outlawing swimming and electricity – but no one would suggest such policies.

The authors conclude: “We learn to live with these risks not because we’re indifferent to suffering but because we understand that the costs of zero-drowning or zero-electrocution would be far too great. The same is true of zero-Covid.”


(Note: Dr. Bhattacharya is one of the medical experts that developed The Great Barrington Declaration which was discussed in an earlier post Epidemiologists Reject Political Correctness.)

Stifling Debate on Transgender Dysphoria


We are losing faith in our healthcare institutions. It seems this is another consequence of political correctness.

I have written frequently of my loss of faith in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), especially since the Biden administration took office. Frequent reversals of their guidance can only be attributed to political, rather than scientific, decisions. I have also distanced myself as a physician from the American Medical Association (AMA) due to their liberal and unscientific policies. I am not alone in this view – the AMA today represents only about 12% of all U.S. physicians. (The AMA Doesn’t Represent Most Doctors)

Now, it seems, the pediatricians cannot have much faith in their specialty organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics. Rather than promote the healthy and urgently needed debate on gender dysphoria, the AAP has refused to consider other opinions. Gender dysphoria is ruining the lives of many young people in their most vulnerable years of development. But instead of being a lighthouse for discussion of this sensitive topic, the AAP has chosen to promote the darkness.

Abigail Shrier, author of The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, writes of the AAP’s intransigence in The Wall Street Journal. It seems they don’t tolerate dissension in their ranks. A group of pediatricians calling themselves the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM) requested a booth at the upcoming annual convention of the AAP. They were granted their request at first, but later the AAP rescinded their approval without explanation.

The SEGM is an international consortium of clinicians and researchers who doubt the reigning orthodoxy that is promoted by the AAP.  They believe important questions like, “Is it safe for adolescents to undergo gender ‘transition’? Is it wise for children to take hormones that block puberty? should be discussed and debated. The AAP accepts these ideas and won’t allow the debate.

This is especially alarming since many other countries are reversing their policies on these issues after bad experiences. In the past year, major hospitals in Europe have ended or curtailed pediatric hormone treatments in response to their own internal reviews. In March, the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence concluded that the benefits of hormone treatments for pediatric gender-dysphoria patients were unclear. The Karolinska Hospital of Sweden, which is affiliated with the Nobel Prize in medicine, in May decided to end its use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for treatment of gender dysphoria for all patients under age 18, except in controlled research settings. Finland has made similar recent changes.

Despite these policy reversals, and skepticism among clinicians across the West, “there’s no home for that message inside U.S. medical societies” says endocrinologist and SEGM co-founder Will Malone.

Current recommendations by the AAP follow the so-called Dutch Protocol, a widely adopted standard of care that has been used to justify starting gender-dysphoric minors as young as eight years on puberty blockers. This protocol is based on a narrow population: children with severe gender dysphoria since early childhood and no other mental-health comorbidities. But now the protocol is being applied to a much broader demographic – teenage girls who seem to have had no prior history of dysphoria and who have high rates of anxiety and depression.

Many of these same girls now regret their entry into this protocol and call themselves “detransitioners.” But the AAP is “working very hard to give an appearance that everything’s been decided and there’s no debate. The growing numbers of detransitioners suggests that pediatricians don’t really know what we’re doing in this case,” said Julia Mason, a pediatrician, SEGM adviser, and AAP fellow.

“We show up with a valid argument, we’re not politically or ideologically driven,” Dr. Malone said. “Other countries, more liberal countries, have already come to the conclusion that we should have come to as a country years ago. And yet, because we can’t open this debate in any form. . . the debate is not occurring and kids are being harmed.” The SEGM didn’t even apply for the opportunity to debate current protocols; they simply wanted to staff a booth and hand out materials.

It seems that pediatricians are finding the AAP as poor a representative of their views as most physicians find the AMA.