In the last week there has been a lot of back and forth among experts about whether people need Covid booster vaccinations – but one crucial element is lost in the conversation.

Whether or not you are getting a team booster vaccination, or if you don’t know what to think, keep this in mind: A full vaccination prevents hospitalization in 86% of patients and 82% in 82%, according to the Centers for Disease Control Death. and prevention. In other words, even amid the spread of the contagious Delta variant, the Covid vaccines are doing exactly what they were designed to do.

Similar to the flu shot, Covid vaccines are designed to reduce the likelihood of infection and serious illness, not eradicate.

“Vaccines are designed to prevent serious illness, not infection or prevent symptoms,” said Dr. Anna Durbin, director of the Center for Immunization Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, during a briefing Wednesday.

This is one possible reason the FDA remains neutral in the face of new Pfizer data suggesting boosters boost immunity.

On Wednesday, Pfizer provided the Food and Drug Administration with data from a real-world study in Israel that showed that a third dose of the mRNA vaccine given six months after a second vaccination restored infection protection to 95%.

“[The] The FDA has not independently reviewed or verified the underlying data or its conclusions, “the agency wrote in a document released on Wednesday. The FDA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee will meet on September 17th to review the data and make a decision the approval of boosters to hit shots in the US

In its report, the FDA also noted that the Israel study presented by Pfizer is an observational study and therefore may contain biases that make the results less reliable. Studies conducted in the US, the agency wrote, “may most accurately show the effectiveness of the vaccine in the US population.”

Moderna also released new data on Wednesday that said breakthrough cases are less common in people who recently received its vaccine, suggesting that its protection may also wear off over time. The drug manufacturer’s analysis has yet to be assessed by experts.

The still effective vaccines against hospitalization and death are also the reason why a group of experts published an article in the medical journal The Lancet on Monday in which they argue that Covid boosters are “not appropriate at this stage of the pandemic”.

And while the booster debate rages, the CDC released new data on Friday supporting the fact that the vaccines are still working as intended.

The agency examined more than 600,000 COVID-19 cases from April to mid-July when Delta became dominant and found that unvaccinated people were about four and a half times more likely to get Covid, over 10 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 11 times more likely to be to die of disease.

Over time, Covid vaccines may not work as well at preventing minor illnesses in people who have been vaccinated, but again: “[T]This is not a sign that the vaccines are failing, “Durbin said.

Even if the FDA approves the use of boosters and finds them safe and effective for what they’re supposed to do, it’s up to the CDC to review them, officially sign them, and decide who to get them, Durbin said.

This story has been edited for clarity.

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