FDA authorizes Pfizer, Moderna boosters for all adults

The FDA expanded its emergency use authorization of Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all adults Nov. 19, paving the way for people to receive a booster shot at least six months after completing their primary series. 

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is set to meet later today to discuss clinical recommendations on how the boosters should be used. Boosters could become available to all U.S. adults as early as this weekend if the agency signs off on broader use. 

The federal expansion comes after a number of cities and states had already moved to expand booster eligibility. Prior to the federal expansion, booster doses of Pfizer and Moderna's mRNA vaccines were limited to specific groups, including people ages 65 and older and those with underlying medical conditions. For Johnson & Johnson recipients, all adults are already eligible for a booster at least two months after their initial dose. 

"The FDA has determined that the currently available data support expanding the eligibility of a single booster dose of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to individuals 18 years of age and older," said Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "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." 

Real-world studies from Israel indicate boosters lower the chance of breakthrough COVID-19 infection and severe illness. Data showed a third dose of Pfizer's vaccine in people ages 60 and older reduced the risk of infection by 86 percent and the risk of severe disease by 92 percent. 

As of Nov. 18, about 32.5 million people, or nearly 17 percent of the U.S.' fully vaccinated population, had received a booster dose, CDC data shows.


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