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CLEVELAND (WJW)– As Pfizer met with top U.S. health officials Monday to discuss their request for federal authorization of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, University Hospitals in Cleveland began clinical trials of the Pfizer booster shot locally.

“I think the meeting is important. I think Pfizer was going to turn over more data, which will be made more public over the next couple days,” said Dr. Amy Edwards, with University Hospitals.

Last week, Pfizer announced booster shots would be needed within 12 months, but public health officials and doctors pushed back.

“We know that the delta variant is causing a vaccine breakthrough. But it is holding as far as mortality and hospitalizations go,” Edwards said.

According to UH, about 10,000 people nationwide are participating in the trials. The purpose is to test whether an extra dose of the vaccine significantly strengthens immune response.

“We are looking at specific populations. People who are immunocompromised, people who are older and more frail and more at risk for COVID, would they benefit from a booster?” added Edwards.

The clinical trials come as the more transmissible, more dangerous delta variant continues to rise. It is now responsible for one in five cases of coronavirus in Ohio.

Ultimately, it’s a decision that the CDC and the FDA will make. Right now, about 48 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated

“It is going to take a lot more work to get 60 or even 80 percent. That is where I think we need to put our time, our energy, and money into,” Edwards said.

UH said the trials are only available to participants who were enrolled in the initial Pfizer trial and completed both shots more than six months ago. Recruitment will continue until early August.