US FDA Clears Pfizer Booster Shots for Older and At-Risk Americans
Those over 65 who had received Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine to get a booster shot 6 months after their 2nd dose.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on Wednesday, 22 September, authorised a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people aged 65 and older, those at high risk of becoming severely ill, and others who are regularly exposed to the virus at their jobs, Reuters reported.
The US FDA also said that people over 65 who had received Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine would get a booster shot at least six months after their second injection.
The FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock said the booster dose would help groups such as healthcare workers, teachers and daycare staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons.
Talking about FDA’s statement, Dr William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), said, “Very broad indeed, especially that ‘among others.’ That could essentially give the green light for giving boosters to a very substantial proportion of the previously vaccinated adult population.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 22 million Americans were "at least six months past their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine”, out of which about half are 65 and older, reported The New York Times.
Dr Jesse Goodman, an infectious disease expert at Georgetown University in Washington and former chief scientist at the FDA, said the authorisation was “generally in line” with the advisory panel vote.
“These are pretty broad categories that give a fair amount of latitude to the judgment of healthcare providers and people providing immunisations,” he added.
It remains to be seen if those who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can also get boosters. The FDA will soon discuss the issue of boosters for them, reported NYT.
“This first FDA authorisation of a COVID-19 vaccine booster is a critical milestone in the ongoing fight against this disease,” said Pfizer chief Albert Bourla.
Countries like Israel and Britain have already rolled out COVID-19 booster campaigns.
In August, President Joe Biden and eight top health officials, including Woodcock, had announced the government’s intention to roll out booster shots for those aged 16 and older, provided the FDA and the CDC approved them.
However, the advisory panel had said that not much evidence was available to support booster shots for that age group and had sought more safety data.
(With inputs from Reuters and The New York Times)
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