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The fight over COVID-19 booster shots heats up

CBS News logo CBS News 9/16/2021 Omar Villafranca
a group of people standing next to a sign: Missouri Sees One Of Nation's Largest Spikes In Cases Of Covid-19 Delta Variant © / Getty Images Missouri Sees One Of Nation's Largest Spikes In Cases Of Covid-19 Delta Variant

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of one in every 500 Americans, according to Johns Hopkins University. Now, the battle over booster shots is intensifying.

Pfizer and Moderna are making a major push for boosters, but the Food and Drug Administration is staying neutral.

The FDA on Wednesday released new documents from Pfizer ahead of an advisory panel meeting scheduled for Friday to discuss COVID booster shots. The documents claim that protection from Pfizer's vaccine loses some effectiveness after six months but improves to 95% after a third dose.

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In a separate document, FDA staff noted they have yet to verify some data that would support an additional dose, saying the current vaccines "still afford protection against severe COVID-19 disease and death in the United States."

Across the U.S., the issue isn't third doses — it's convincing Americans to get their first dose

In Tennessee, less than 45% of the population is fully vaccinated. In Shelby County, which includes Memphis, children make up 35% of the active cases from the last two weeks.

"If we could get our vaccination rates up even more, if we could get people to mask consistently, we would be doing the job of protecting those kids who are under the age of 12 who really don't have the option of being vaccinated right now," Dr. Michelle Taylor, the county's health director, said.

Jacob Rodrigues, 17, of Tipton County, was unvaccinated when he got COVID. "(I) felt really tired, headache. Couldn't taste nothing. It was awful," he said.

His mother, Julie McDivitt, said  a nurse told her that "It looks like Jacob's played four quarters of football with no pads on inside of his body."

She said hearing that from a medical professional made her wonder, "God where are you taking us with this? Am I going to be on that list? Is my kid going to be one of those numbers?"

President Biden on Wednesday met with CEOs to discuss his vaccine mandate for business with more than 100 employees. In Memphis, that means employers like FedEx and AutoZone.

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