Yahoo Finance's Seana Smith spoke with Dr. Owais Durrani, an emergency medicine physician, to discuss the latest CDC findings regarding teens and the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine, boosters, and mixing vaccinations
SEANA SMITH: CDC releasing a study today showing that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is 93% effective against hospitalization in children ages 12 to 18 years old. We want to bring in Dr. Owais Durrani, he's an emergency medicine physician based in Texas, for more on this and also where we stand in this fight against COVID. Dr. Durrani, it's great to see you again.
Of course, these are encouraging results from the CDC study. I also want to point out that it said nearly all 97% of children 12 to 18 who were hospitalized with COVID were unvaccinated. When you take a look at these results that we're getting, what's your big takeaway?
OWAIS DURRANI: Yeah, thanks for having me, and good to see you as well. The big takeaway is vaccines still work. We've been saying they've been working for the past good part of a year, and they still work. They still hold the test of all these variants. They keep kids and adults out of hospitals, for the most part. And it's something that we need to continue to emphasize on.
Right now is a really exciting time. We're heading into the holiday season. A lot of us didn't travel for the holidays last year, and we're looking forward to seeing our friends and family. And the number one key to making that a successful fall and winter is going to be to get as many of us vaccinated as possible. And this is just more evidence that vaccines are effective in all age groups.
ADAM SHAPIRO: When we talk about the vaccines and the potential to mix and match the boosters, how best to go forward on that? Should you consult a doctor? Or if you got the J&J, once they approve all of this, should you just walk into your local CVS and say, give me Pfizer or Moderna? How's this really going to work?
OWAIS DURRANI: Yeah, so the answer is always make decisions in consultation with your doctor. We've had data for a good part of the last six months or so showing that mixing and matching vaccines does lead to a robust immune response, in a lot of cases, leads to even a greater antibody response than if you get the same dose of the first and second dose and the booster. Now we're seeing data from the NIH and other data from within the United States that supports that.
And so as we get recommendations from our health care officials, using that in conjunction with the conversations with your doctor is going to be the way to go. The one caveat I see is if you got that first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we see lots of evidence that shows getting an missense vaccine as the second dose, the Pfizer or Moderna, leads to a much more robust immune response. And so, of course, still discuss it with your doctor, but I think that's going to be the way to go in terms of getting a second dose if you got the J&J vaccine as your first one.
SEANA SMITH: And, doctor, in your conversations with patients right now, how receptive are people to getting their booster shots? Are you seeing most people who do qualify at this point actually going and getting their third shot?
OWAIS DURRANI: I do, yeah. Those that got vaccinated initially and are due for their boosters, they tend to be those that are over 65 or those that have those medical conditions that put them in a higher risk group. And so those individuals, you know, from the beginning and onset, were really receptive to what science and doctors were telling them. And they still are.
A lot of times, I'll get questions about things like mixing and matching. Or they might be in a category that might be high risk, might not be, and they just want to make sure that they're getting a booster that will continue to provide them that long-term immunity. One point I do want to make is, you know, because we see these different varying levels of antibodies when you mix and match versus getting the second or third dose of the same brand, we don't know if these antibody levels lead to long-term immunity. So that's going to be something we really want to keep an eye on.
Just because you have a 70x increase in your antibody levels, does that lead to six months down the road you still being protected as well or better than if you had gotten a different type of vaccine? So that's going to be data that we need to look at and that we're going to need to continue to communicate clearly to our patients.
ADAM SHAPIRO: When we lose someone like Colin Powell and we also learn that he had an underlying condition, how much more difficult does it make it for you and other doctors to do their jobs? Because some of our colleagues are reporting this as he was vaccinated, and yet he succumbed to COVID-- then not pointing out that he was fighting a very severe form of cancer.
OWAIS DURRANI: Exactly. There was a lot of frustration amongst some of the group chats I'm in within the physician community yesterday morning when that was the headline that we were seeing-- a completely vaccinated individual passing away, but not talking about the fact that he had multiple myeloma, which is a cancer of the plasma cells. And the number one job of plasma cells is to create the antibodies we talk about all the time, which then protect us against COVID.
There is data that we have seen that even when you are fully vaccinated, only 45% of those with multiple myeloma amount a adequate immune response. And so that should be kind of what we're focusing on. It's unfortunate that for clicks and views, sometimes we lead with other headlines. And it just makes our jobs harder.