A third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer led to improved protection from COVID-19 infection and severe illness, according to new data from the Israeli Health Ministry.

Does the third dose stop COVID-19? New Israel data offers insight

Per Reuters, new data from the Israeli Health Ministry found that a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine — or, in other words, a booster shot — has so far improved protection against COVID-19 infections and severe illness among those 60 years old and up.

  • Specifically, the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, whose two-dose vaccine was given full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval today, offered four times as much protection against infection as two doses, according to The Washington Post.
  • And the third dose provided five to six times higher protection against severe illness.
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Israel has been giving third doses to vulnerable populations since late last month. The first recipients of the third dose include those who are 60 years old and up, which is why the data is centered around that age group.

More data on third shots from Israel

Last week, Israeli health officials shared data that showed a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was effective at stopping infection about 86% of the time, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • This data came from a study of about 149,144 people who were older than 60 who received a third Pfizer dose about two weeks ago.

Why Israel data matters

The United States has been looking at Israel as a template for how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to people. And last week, U.S. health officials said all Americans should get a COVID-19 booster shot about eight months after their second dose, following in the footsteps of Israel.

  • “We are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” officials told The New York Times.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser for the coronavirus, recently said people should not rush to get their booster (especially if they just got a second shot of the vaccine). You should wait for eight months, he said.

  • “If you get a prime and then a booster ... you get the maximum effect of a late boost if you give the immune system a chance” to adapt to the vaccine, he told MSNBC.