COVID vaccine booster shots: US expands additional Pfizer doses, Moderna doses for all adults, final hurdle ahead

NEW YORK – The US government moved Friday to open up enhanced COVID-19 footage to all adults, expanding efforts to anticipate rising coronavirus cases that experts fear will grow into a winter wave as millions of Americans travel for holidays.

The FDA’s decision aims to simplify what has been a confusing list of who is eligible for a booster dose: Now, anyone 18 and older can choose either Pfizer or Moderna Booster six months after their last dose, regardless of which vaccine they got first. The move came after about a dozen states began offering boosters to all adults on their own.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that people need something simpler — and that’s, I think, simple,” FDA head of vaccines Dr. Peter Marks told The Associated Press.

But there’s one more step before this policy becomes final: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must agree. Its scientific advisors endorsed the move Friday afternoon after discussing the safety and benefit of Pfizer and Moderna boosters even in healthy adults.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisers said anyone 18 and older could choose a booster from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, but took an extra step and stressed that people 50 and older should get a booster. One. A final decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected later Friday.

“It’s a stronger recommendation,” said CDC advisor Dr. Matthew Daly of Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “I want to make sure that we offer as much protection as possible.”

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The first priority is still getting first doses of Americans who are not immunized. That’s because all three COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States continue to provide strong protection against severe disease, including hospitalization and death, without the use of a booster dose. But protection from infection can wane over time.

“Death from COVID-19 for most people living in the United States can be prevented with vaccination,” Daly noted.

But if the CDC agrees, tens of millions of Americans who are six months past their last shot of Pfizer or Moderna could get an extra dose of protection before the new year. The Moderna booster comes with half the dose of your previous shots. Anyone who has already received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a booster dose after two months.

Teen boosters haven’t been discussed yet, and child-sized doses of the Pfizer vaccine are now being rolled out for children ages 5 to 11.

SEE ALSO: FDA Approves Mixing of COVID Vaccines; Supports Moderna and J&J boosters
The push to expand the boosters comes as new COVID-19 cases have risen steadily over the past three weeks, particularly in states where cold weather is driving people indoors. Some states did not wait for federal officials to act and opened reinforcements to all adults.

Marks said he understood why some conservatives were out before the Food and Drug Administration.

“We’re in a cold season, issues are up, travel season is high, and the people inside are sharing good vacation times together,” he said. “Maybe they saw a ghost of what might happen here, and were trying – in good faith – to do something.”

Reinforcements for all were the original goal of the Biden administration. But so far, US health authorities – with the support of their scientific advisors – have questioned the need for such boosters on a large scale. Instead, they endorse Pfizer or Moderna boosters only for vulnerable groups such as older Americans or those at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to health issues, their jobs or their living conditions.

This time, the FDA concluded the overall benefits of extra protection from a third dose for any adult outweigh the risks of rare side effects from Moderna or Pfizer’s vaccines, such as a type of carditis that appears mostly in young adults.

Several other countries have discouraged use of Moderna’s vaccine in young adults due to this concern, citing data indicating that rare side effects may occur more frequently with this vaccine than with competitors.

Pfizer told Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisers that in a booster study in 10,000 people as young as 16, there were no more serious side effects from a third vaccine dose than the previous one. That study found that a booster restored protection against symptomatic infections to about 95% even while the highly infectious delta variant was increasing.

Britain recently released factual data showing the same leap in protection once it began offering boosters to middle-aged and elderly adults, and Israel has widely credited the boosters with helping to weather another wave of the virus.

More than 195 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, defined as having received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of J&J. More than 30 million have already received a booster dose. This includes certain ineligible persons; Many vaccine websites were not verifying qualifications.

Some experts worry that all the attention to boosters could harm efforts to reach the 60 million Americans who are eligible to be vaccinated but who do not get vaccinated. There is also growing concern that rich countries provide boosters on a large scale when poor countries cannot vaccinate more than a small part of their population.

“In terms of priority No. 1 to reduce transmission in this country and around the world, that remains to get people the first series of vaccines,” said Dr. David Dowdy of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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