Update: Coronavirus booster shots for people 65 and older and adults otherwise vulnerable to severe illness received the Food and Drug Administration's approval on Wednesday. The agency decided that anyone in a high-risk situation, possibly because of their job, also should be able to get a Pfizer booster, the Washington Post reports. The third shot could come six months after the second. The decision is not yet final. If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees with the FDA—and the advisory panel that supports the move—the boosters will be made available. Our original story from last week follows:
An federal advisory panel on Friday rejected the idea of recommending Pfizer booster shots to all Americans ages 16 and up. However, the panel did unanimously recommend COVID boosters for those 65 and older and for those at high risk for other reasons, reports the Washington Post. The idea for broader shots was rejected soundly by a vote of 16-2. Over several hours of discussion, members of the Food and Drug Administration panel of outside experts voiced frustration that Pfizer had provided little data on safety of extra doses, per the AP. And they complained that data provided by Israeli researchers about their booster campaign might not be suitable for predicting the US experience.
The CDC generally adopts the recommendations of the group. Scientists inside and outside the government have been divided in recent days over the need for boosters and who should get them, and the World Health Organization has strongly objected to rich nations giving a third round of shots when poor countries don’t have enough vaccine for their first. The panel weighed a less than clear-cut case: While research suggests immunity levels in those who have been vaccinated wane over time and boosters can reverse that, the Pfizer vaccine is still highly protective against severe illness and death, even amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. Decisions on the Moderna and J&J vaccines were to be made separately. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)