The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that people who are over 65 years old can get a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, assuming they’re already fully vaccinated by the Pfizer two-dose vaccine.
- The FDA said Pfizer vaccine recipients who are at severe risk of COVID-19 can get the booster shot, too, six months after they receive their first two doses.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner, said in a statement that the decision came after data show that boosters can help the vulnerable stay safe from COVID-19.
- “This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day. As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed,” she said.
Per The New York Times, this will begin a new process of dishing out booster shots, which will likely begin with the most vulnerable Americans.
- “It opens the way for possibly tens of millions of vaccinated people to receive boosters at pharmacies, health clinics, doctors’ offices and elsewhere,” according to The New York Times.
Pfizer had originally asked the FDA to approve the booster shot for everyone 16 and older since data showed that immunity waned after six months for those who got the Pfizer vaccine, CNN reports.
Last week, a panel of experts advising the FDA rejected the plan to offer Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all Americans, saying only those who are most at-risk need the boosters, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
- “I don’t think a booster dose is going to significantly contribute to controlling the pandemic,” said Dr. Cody Meissner of Tufts University at the meeting, per The Associated Press. “And I think it’s important that the main message we transmit is that we’ve got to get everyone two doses.”
Those who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are still waiting to learn when they might get booster shots, per The New York Times. The FDA is expected to discuss the booster for those vaccines soon.