PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Pfizer announced Thursday that it plans to request federal authorization next month for a third dose booster shot of its coronavirus vaccine.

The company completes the manufacturing process of the vaccine at its plant in Portage.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration issued a joint statement saying existing vaccines remain effective against variants and a third dose is not yet needed.

Dr. Richard Van Enk, the director of epidemiology and infection prevention with Bronson Healthcare, says companies preparing for a booster is a good thing in case one is needed to prolong the effectiveness of the vaccine or better fight newer variants.

“The way that the pharmaceutical companies are approaching this is to prepare for something that may be necessary in the future; it’s not to respond to a situation that’s a real need today,” Van Enk said.

Doctors have been anticipating the possibility of an additional dose.

“Boosting is a good thing. The question is, is it necessary, how much more protection does a booster provide?” Van Enk said.

Bronson says 98% of its hospitalized COVID-19 patients are not fully vaccinated.

“Most of the people that are admitted to the hospital with COVID are not vaccinated. It looks like the vaccine is doing a very good job in preventing hospitalization,” Van Enk said.

Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford says the higher vaccination rate in the area compared to some other parts of the country is providing protection in the community.

“We’re not seeing a lot of new cases (in Kalamazoo County), but nationally approximately 54% of the cases that are being reported are the delta variant, so it is here,” Rutherford said.

He acknowledged that people might be confused by Pfizer’s request and the current CDC response.

“It’s a little unusual that you’ve got the company that manufactures the product saying one thing and the CDC and FDA saying something different and it’s going to take some time to understand that,” he said.

Rutherford says people should not hesitate to get vaccinated and recommends they contact their local health department if they have questions.