Your Booster Questions Answered with Dr. Abdul el-Sayed | Crooked Media
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October 21, 2021
What A Day
Your Booster Questions Answered with Dr. Abdul el-Sayed

In This Episode

  • The CDC recommended boosters for certain people who got the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. That means as soon as today, almost 100 millions of people can sign up for a booster in the U.S. Dr. Abdul el-Sayed, epidemiologist and host of Crooked’s “America Dissected” joins us to answer all of our questions.
  • And in headlines: kidnappers in Haiti threatened to kill the 17 missionaries they’re holding hostage, Moscow announced a 10-day lockdown to curb COVID cases, and federal officials report that climate change is a growing national security threat.




Gideon Resnick: It’s Friday, October 22nd. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where we are suggesting that Congress punish Steve Bannon by cutting off his access to margarita mix.


Gideon Resnick: He has gallons hidden in a boat off the coast of Guam. We are going there immediately to make sure those are emptied into the ocean.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, like SWAT team style, but it’s us, and then we get to keep the mix.


Gideon Resnick: Sure, some.


Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, the federal government calls climate change a national security threat. Plus, we offer a more appealing alternative to Trump’s new social media site.


Gideon Resnick: Cannot wait for that. But first, yesterday was a big day for boosters. The CDC recommended boosters for certain people who got the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. And that means that as soon as today, almost 100 million people can collectively sign up for a booster in the U.S. So Priyanka, let’s dive into some of the details here, beginning with Moderna.


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So like the Pfizer booster, the recommendation from the FDA and the CDC is that a Moderna booster can be administered for people 65 and up, younger adults who might be at risk of severe COVID-19, and people who are at risk of frequent exposure due to their occupation or living situation. As for the timing, the recommendation is for at least six months after people received their second dose of the shot. And Moderna’s booster dose is expected to be a half dose of the original vaccine, so 50 micrograms instead of 100.


Gideon Resnick: Oh, got it. And then what did the CDC have to say for people like ourselves with the Johnson & Johnson shot?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So as we’ve mentioned, J&J is slightly different, given that it’s the only vaccine that was one dose. The approval here is for anyone 18 and older who received a Johnson & Johnson shot, that is for at least two months after getting their first shot. But the news that’s maybe the biggest update and the one that’s the most significant for J&J recipients is that the CDC basically said that it would be OK if people got a different brand of booster shot than the original vaccine that they received. The Washington Post reported that the CDC advisers are still figuring out if they’re going to recommend that people stick with their first vaccine brand if they can. And that guidance should be on the way early next week with more detailed information. But this is that mixing and matching that we have been talking about a lot on the show. And with this green light, we are one step closer to making it a reality. So public health experts have said that this provides more flexibility for individuals, pharmacies and doctors, and can help address the comparative lower level of overall protection from the single J&J shot alone.


Gideon Resnick: I am already crippled by decision. I, this has made life easier, but also more challenging.


Priyanka Aribindi: I know. For people like us, indecisive people like us, you’re giving us all these options. No. We can’t have it.


Gideon Resnick: The CDC’s advisory panel said that people who were fully vaccinated before should still consider themselves that, booster or not. But Priyanka, there are a lot more questions that came up through all of this. So to answer them and some of the audience’s we have with us again Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. He is an epidemiologist and the host of Crooked’s America Dissected. Welcome back to What A Day. We should just go ahead and make this a regular thing at this point, right?


Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: I’m mean, I’m happy to do house calls.


Gideon Resnick: I appreciate it. I appreciate it. Last time that we talked about this, boosters were kind of more on the horizon, but now there are some different questions that people have about them at this point in the process. So when it comes to mixing and matching vaccine boosters, what does the science that we have so far say about the safety and protection that you get from that?


Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Well, it’s really quite limited. And the main study was an NIH study, 458 individuals who were mixed and matched. And what they found was pretty astounding, particularly for folks who—I know you all know and love—the recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For folks who boosted with Johnson & Johnson after two months, there was a 4-fold increase of antibody reactivity. But then, when they boosted with Pfizer, it was a 35-fold increase. And when they boosted with Moderna, I was a 76-fold increase. Now the CDC recommendation is to stick with the vaccine that you received. That said, that seems to be inconsistent with what this study shows, although admittedly it’s a pretty small study and there’s a lot more research that has yet to be done.


Gideon Resnick: Got it. Got it.


Priyanka Aribindi: So when we told our audience that you were coming back, they flooded us with questions. They had so many for you. Autumn Lucas is one of those people, she tweeted at us: I was originally double vax with Moderna. When I’m eligible for a booster, should I try to get Pfizer, sick with Moderna, or does it even matter? And then for J&J hive, obviously Gideon and I, both very invested. Are there different considerations for us as we try to make those choices?


Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah, I would say for recipients of the mRNA vaccines, so either Pfizer or Moderna, sticking with the one that you got is the CDC recommendation and seems to be justified in the evidence that I’ve seen. When it comes to J&J, there is quite a difference in what the CDC has recommended. And what the CDC’s language it sort of does here is to say we recommend that you stick with the one you got but you may also choose to mix and match—which is opening the door to jump into, you know, taking a different booster. My sense is that for those who’ve gotten the mRNA, if I were to boost, I would boost with Pfizer, which is what I took. You know, for those who’ve gotten J&J, if I had gotten J&J what I would be doing is boosting Moderna or Pfizer,


Priyanka Aribindi: I know the last time you were here with us, we were talking about whether it was even necessary for young and healthy people, those people we were talking about, to even be getting the additional shot. And on Instagram, someone asked if there is any reason now not to get a booster. What are you thinking?


Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: What’s important is that the CDC is evidence that they reviewed, it’s pretty clear that the Moderna vaccine holds pretty strongly among people under the age of 65. So one has to make a choice, and I would really recommend talking to your own provider and thinking through that if you’re somebody who is, you know, who doesn’t fall within one of these recommended groups. If you found the second dose uncomfortable for a while, then you know it’s highly likely that you’re going to have the same experience with the third dose. And that may not be worth getting that booster. And at the same time, there is this added benefit in terms of increased immunity in the context of a Delta variant that has shown to break through. And so it really is a trade-off for you about what you feel more comfortable doing.


Gideon Resnick: Within those limited studies that were of J&J followed by an mRNA, did people experience something in those in terms of side effects with the mRNA that they hadn’t with those other vaccines first?


Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: No. As far as we understand, there’s no additional risk with respect to either of those vaccines. There is, of course, the well-documented risk of clotting with J&J, among women in particular. And then there is a risk with Moderna—very, very slight risk, again with each of these extremely, extremely slight risk—of myocarditis in young men. But again, the risks don’t go up based on mixing and matching. They’re just consistent with, you know, having taken a dose.


Priyanka Aribindi: My big question for you now, and it seems like someone else on Instagram has the same question as well: how often are we going to need these boosters? Are we doing this every year, do we not know yet, or what do you think about, you know, the frequency that we’ll be doing this?


Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: I wish I could tell you. At this point, it’s really quite unclear. Most models that have looked at this pandemic suggest that we are going to see post Delta, a steady decline in cases. That being said, we’re dealing with a pandemic, the likes of which we’ve never actually seen and so, you know, we can prognosticate, but it’s unclear. We are likely to see seasonal variants of this virus because the virus evolves so quickly. And so, you know, it is really unclear what this may look like once the pandemic era of COVID 19-is over and we’re more in the endemic era, but we’re just not sure whether or not that’s going to require more boosters over time. But, you know, if you use the flu as an example, another RNA virus that’s very, very efficient at evolving, it has stayed endemic, and it takes 50 to 70,000 lives a year—which is a good time to remind you that even as we’re talking about boosting, you really ought to boost your flu shot.


Gideon Resnick: And do you foresee a situation in which—as one Instagram user put it to us—that the virus is going to run out of fuel with high vaccination rates? And for context, there, over 66% of the entire U.S. population has had at least one dose. That is, with children younger than 12 still waiting to be eligible.


Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: I want you to think about it kind of like a fire, and a forest fire, which unfortunately, California, y’all know too well. There is a inferno phase of the fire, and then there’s, you know, fires. In some respects, this pandemic is like an inferno, and once it’s sort of burned through or we’ve protected, you know, some of the wooded areas through vaccines, which is what we’re doing, then it will run out of fuel to continue to sustain the inferno. That being said, you could still imagine right, bits and pieces of the fire moving around, but they’re not burning at the same rate with the same intensity as they would have been. That’s kind of what moving from the pandemic phase to the endemic phase will look like. But I don’t want people to think that it’s just going to burn out. And it’s likely to stick around for a while, but not at the same intensity and the same pace because it does proverbially run out of fuel.


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Thank you so much. This was so, so helpful, and I have a much better idea of what to expect now with getting a booster.


Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah, good luck. And it was a privilege, as it always is, to join you guys. And thanks for having me.


Gideon Resnick: That was Dr. Abdul El-Sayed epidemiologist and host of Crooked America Dissected. And make sure that you are subscribed if you’re not already. This weekend, he is recording his next episode from the American Public Health Association conference in Denver, where it is all about how public health officials can communicate better. That episode comes out next Tuesday. And again, thank you to all of the WAD squad out there who sent in your questions. We were so happy that we were able to field some of them. And that is the latest for now.


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Friday, WAD squad, and today we are doing a segment called The Solution, where we propose effects to a news story that has created chaos in our world, guiding us through today is our head writer, Jon Millstein Jon, welcome back to the show.


Jon Millstein: Thank you guys so much. This opportunity means the world to me.


Gideon Resnick: I want to register again that this is being treated as if it’s some sort of norm, and it’s a first for me.


Priyanka Aribindi: It is a norm. It’s a norm for the fans now.


Jon Millstein: For us it’s a norm.


Gideon Resnick: it makes me sick that you would even say such a thing. But moving on, Trump’s third act as a webmaster began late on Wednesday with the announcement of TRUTH Social, a site like Twitter that will give free speech conservatives a home on the internet and will also let Trump have a social media account without registering as his alter ego, “Armando Florida.” The app has not launched yet, but we do have some early insights into how it’s all going to work. To get into the jargon, tweets are going to be called truths, retweets are called re-truths, and the newsfeed is known as the truth feed. It is a unifying theme there. TRUTH Social’s stated mission is to stand up to Big Tech, but it’s not always so confrontational. On the App Store, it markets itself as a place for families to quote, “come together to have an amazing time and share their viewpoints of the world.” Now, importantly, the platform is just one aspect of a much larger operation Trump is cooking up that is called Trump Media and Technology Group. In a presentation released Wednesday, the company revealed its plans for a complete media domination, which include launching a streaming service called TMTG+ that’s going to compete with presumably Disney+ and Netflix. At one point we’ll be able to bundle all of them together. TMTG+ will specialize in quote unquote “non-woke” content, which there’s actually really no shortage of, since our world has mostly been racist, sexist and xenophobic for all of human history. TRUTH social is not even live yet, but its parent company TMTG+ already values itself at nearly $900 million.


Priyanka Aribindi: My God, my God.


Gideon Resnick: Whew. So for the new Trump website and his forecasted media empire, here is Jon with the solution.


Jon Millstein: To take on TRUTH Social, we need to recruit the only other former president with the same huge following, buzzworthy opinions, and natural ease with the internet as Donald Trump. 97-year old Georgian, Jimmy Carter. Like TRUTH social, Jimmy Carter’s social media platform will be founded on a commitment to free speech. With the caveat that the only things you can post on it are pictures of tractors, and full text messages that you meant to send to your grandson. The site will tentatively be called Farmville unless anyone finds out that’s the name for something else. It will only be accessible on public library computers running Netscape Navigator, but web users will still visit in droves since there will be no other place for Carter’s scorching hot takes, like “Dear Grandson: I’m proud of you with each passing day, you fill my ancient heart with joy. Signed Pepaw.” Soon Carter’s media empire will be so huge he’ll be able to buy all the servers that the internet runs on. Then he’ll be able to cover them with dirt and get to work building Habitat for Humanity houses on top of the servers. Trump’s company will be defeated and the internet will be what it always should have been: a beautiful neighborhood constructed by hand by Jimmy Carter.


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God, my face hurts from smiling so much.


Gideon Resnick: I love it, I absolutely love it. The other thing that you can post potentially is pictures of the Carters looking small and other people looking big, because that’s—


Jon Millstein: Those are banned.


Gideon Resnick: Those are—I’m sorry, I apologize. I’ve issued a correction. Those are banned.


Priyanka Aribindi: You’ve outdone yourself. This is a real, I hope this happens for us.


Jon Millstein: Thank you guys. I do to.


Priyanka Aribindi: May the whole internet be buried under this neighborhood


Jon Millstein: Under Carter’s dirt, yes.


Priyanka Aribindi: And that was The Solution. We will be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: Seventeen people from a Christian aid mission who were kidnaped in Haiti last Saturday are still being held captive. A Haitian gang called 400 Mawozo has claimed responsibility for the abduction. Earlier this week, the gang reportedly asked for a ransom of $1 million per person. And yesterday, the leader of the gang released a video where he threatened to kill the hostages if he doesn’t get what he demands. Before the video was released, the victim’s families made their first public statement. Outside of the Ohio headquarters of Christian Aid Ministries, spokesman Weston Showalter read an emotional message out loud.


[clip of Weston Showalter] We thank him that he is God and ask him to hear our prayers and bring our families home.


Gideon Resnick: Among the kidnapped are an eight-month old infant, a three-year old, a six-year old and two young teenagers.


Priyanka Aribindi: That is really terrifying. I hope that everyone returns home safely. Russia is suffering its worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Yesterday, the mayor of Moscow announced a 10-day lockdown in an effort to curb rising cases. The measure comes after the city imposed a lockdown earlier this week for all unvaccinated residents over 60, along with unvaccinated people who are immunocompromised. The order for them to remain home is for the next four months, until late February. The city has not been in lockdown since early summer of 2020, and earlier this month, a Kremlin spokesperson said quote “The introduction of lockdowns is an absolutely undesirable scenario.” But Russia’s vaccination effort is stalled, with just 33% of people fully vaccinated. And officials have recently reported that the country keeps reaching new highs in the number of daily cases and deaths. The Kremlin is now taking a more tough love approach, and a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin told journalists quote, “Citizens of our country need to take a more responsible position and get vaccinated.”


Gideon Resnick: Wow. A series of reports describing climate change as a growing national security threat were released on Thursday by the White House, Pentagon, and U.S. intelligence community. Congress has now heard about climate change from its crush of all crushes, the military, so maybe they will take it seriously.


Priyanka Aribindi: Maybe.


Gideon Resnick: Some points from the reports highlighted by the New York Times: the Pentagon warned about future food shortages leading to conflict, as well as possible confrontations over water. Another report cites an estimate that by 2050, up to 143 million people throughout South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America could be displaced due to climate change. The National Intelligence Estimate, the first that looks exclusively at climate, stated that the actions of China and India are going to significantly determine how global temperatures rise. Lastly, there are 11 countries named as being specifically susceptible to the worst of climate change, while also being poorly equipped to handle it. Among them are Guatemala, Haiti, India, Afghanistan and Iraq. These reports were released in advance of President Biden’s attendance at a major U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, and while nothing has passed to address it in Congress yet.


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, I am not a person with a top secret security clearance or any of that, but I feel like I have known all of this for quite some time. So . . .


Gideon Resnick: Correct!


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, maybe, maybe this will prompt them, one would hope, to do something.


Gideon Resnick: You’d think you would think.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Bad news For fans of any meals that involve more than three ingredients, the CDC announced a salmonella outbreak linked to imported red, white and yellow onions on Wednesday. That is like pretty much every kind of onion.


Gideon Resnick: Right, right, right.


Priyanka Aribindi: The outbreak spans 37 states so far and has resulted in 652 illnesses and 129 hospitalizations. According to the CDC, whole onions imported from Chihuahua Mexico have been linked to the outbreak and shouldn’t be eaten, sold, or served. The agency recommends that if you have unlabeled onions in your home, which if you have any onions at all, you probably do—.


Gideon Resnick: Yes.


Priyanka Aribindi: To throw them out and to sanitize any surfaces that they have been in contact with. Salmonella symptoms include long lasting high fevers, over 102 degrees, and signs of dehydration. I personally preferred it when salmonella was just a risk to ignore while eating raw cookie dough. But for the time being, we on WAD, are going to be onion free to stay safe.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I had to part with a beautiful looking onion yesterday in fact, after I read this and it was upsetting. I got to say, it was upsetting.


Priyanka Aribindi: RIP, RIP on that onion.


Gideon Resnick: Thank you. Rest in peace. And those are the headlines. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, sign up for an account on Jimmy Carter’s Farmville, and tell your friends to listen.


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just the user agreement for TRUTH social like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And enjoy your vacation from onions.


Priyanka Aribindi: No, you won’t.


Gideon Resnick: No you won’t. No. You’re going to have bland food.


Priyanka Aribindi: You’re going to have an awful time.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, this is going to be a rough stretch.


Priyanka Aribindi: But like, we’re all in it together, we’re all having an awful time.


Gideon Resnick: Onions have layers, just like ogres. And this emotional trauma that we’re in also has layers, just like onions and ogres.


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.


Gideon Resnick: That’s it.


Priyanka Aribindi: What he said.


Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lance. Jazzi Marine is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and myself. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.