FDA Speeds Up Plans to Help Immunocompromised

Agency said to be fast-tracking COVID booster shots for the most medically vulnerable
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2021 1:47 PM CDT
Booster Shots May Be Coming Soon for the Most Vulnerable
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Inside Creative House)

Conversations within the FDA, CDC, and NIH have begun regarding COVID-19 booster shots, with the Biden administration indicating plans will pick up steam early next month to get that plan going for the general population. "The agencies are engaged in a science-based, rigorous process to consider whether or when a booster might be necessary," an FDA rep said Thursday, per CNN. But one group, the immunocompromised, may need those extra shots more quickly than the public at large, or even older patients, and federal officials say the Biden administration is expediting plans for that demographic, with the possibility of authorization within weeks or even days, per the Washington Post and ABC News. This would cover millions of Americans who are cancer patients or organ recipients, or who have other conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID.

If the data supports it, the FDA is expected to revise the emergency use authorizations already in place for the vaccines in the US so that those who qualify can get those shots. Overseas, Israel is currently offering boosters for the immunocompromised and for all people 60 and older, and nations such as France, Britain, and Germany are set to follow suit. Some patients in the US are already going rogue, getting unauthorized extra doses of vaccine "as they see fit," leading to a "really challenging" dilemma, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital tells the Post. Some say the word "boosters" isn't even the right term when it comes to extra doses for the immunocompromised—instead, they should simply be considered as part of the original series of shots. The CDC's vaccine advisory committee is set to meet next Friday. (More coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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