Hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster shot of the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines for people 50 and older, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its support for the move.
Echoing the FDA, the CDC also recommended a second COVID booster shot for “certain immune-compromised Individuals.”
“Boosters are safe, and people over the age of 50 can now get an additional booster 4 months after their prior [booster] dose to increase their protection further,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in an agency statement.
“This is especially important for those 65 and older and those 50 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19,” she added, “as they are the most likely to benefit from receiving an additional booster dose at this time.”
Why is a second COVID booster shot needed?
Any adult recipient of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also recommended to get a second booster, the CDC said.
“Based on newly published data, adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA [Pfizer or Moderna] COVID-19 vaccine,” the agency said.
Walensky hinted that general access to a second booster might be further expanded later. “CDC, in collaboration with FDA and our public health partners, will continue to evaluate the need for additional booster doses for all Americans,” she said.
Dr. Peter Marks directs the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. During a media briefing held Tuesday, he explained the FDA’s reasoning on second booster shots.
“Recent data show that three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine retain some degree of effectiveness over time. That said, the available data also show that immunity does wane to some extent over time, and older adults and those with weakened immune systems, even if they’ve received a booster, may be more likely to experience severe outcomes if they get COVID-19,” Marks said. “To give those at highest risk of serious outcomes of COVID-19 the option for continued protection, we are authorizing a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for use in people 50 years of age or older, and those with certain kinds of immunocompromise.”
When asked why age 50 was chosen as the FDA’s age cutoff for second booster shots, Marks noted that “we know that people in the age range from about 50 to 65, about a third of them have significant medical co-morbidities. By choosing age 50 and up… we felt like we would