The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s expert vaccine advisory panel on Friday unanimously endorsed booster shots from both Pfizer and Moderna for all fully vaccinated adults.
If CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signs off on the recommendation, as she typically does, boosters would be available this weekend and many Americans who want one could get the shot before families and friends gather for Thanksgiving.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 booster shots for all adults, clearing the way to additional vaccine protection for tens of millions of Americans.
Both Pfizer and Moderna had applied for broader use of their booster shots within the past week. Any adult who received a second dose of either vaccine at least six months earlier should be able to get a booster as soon as this weekend.
“COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be the best and highly effective defense against COVID-19. Authorizing the use of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older helps to provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, said in an agency news release.
In addition to offering more protection to more Americans, the decision should make it easier for Americans to know whether they are eligible for shots, Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research adds.
“Streamlining the eligibility criteria and making booster doses available to all individuals 18 years of age and older will also help to eliminate confusion about who may receive a booster dose and ensure booster doses are available to all who may need one,” he said in the agency news release.
Experts laud the move
“This comes as welcome news, especially with the holidays fast approaching as families gather together, triggering a spike in domestic and international travel,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City shares.
Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, agrees.
“This decision by FDA is overdue, and it is very welcome,” McNally said in a university news release. “We’ve seen cases rising, and we’ve seen this in places where the weather has gotten colder, and people have moved inside. This shift to indoor activities is coinciding with waning immunity. I’ve been recommending to all my patients to get boosters, and the FDA decision will improve the uptake of that message.”
“In our own research, we have seen that boosters produce about five times the amount of antibody as the second dose,” McNally adds. “So, we are very encouraged by these results and hope the boosters will carry us longer than the first two shots.”