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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

US advisors support expanding COVID booster to all adults

by Lauren Niergaard, Matthew Perrone and Mike Stobe

WASHINGTON (AP) – The US government on Friday moved to open up COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, expanding efforts to get ahead of rising coronavirus cases that experts fear may snowball into winter. Maybe because millions of Americans travel for the holidays.

The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to simplify what is a confusing list of who is eligible for a booster is: Now, anyone age 18 or older can take Pfizer or Moderna six months after their last dose. may choose a booster, regardless of which vaccine they have previously had . The move came after about a dozen states began giving boosters on their own to all adults.

“We heard loud and clear that people want something simple — and I think it’s easy,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks told the Associated Press.

But there’s one more step before that policy is finalized: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must agree. Its scientific advisers backed the move Friday afternoon after discussing the safety and usefulness of Pfizer and Moderna Booster even in healthy young adults.

CDC advisers said anyone age 18 and older can choose a booster from Pfizer or Moderna, but took an extra step and insisted that people 50 and older should get one. A final CDC decision was expected later on Friday.

“It’s a strong recommendation,” said Dr. Matthew Daly, CDC advisor at Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “I want to make sure we provide as much protection as possible.”

1 priority still more illiterate Americans getting their first dose. This is because all three COVID-19 vaccines used in the US without a booster offer strong protection against serious illness, including hospitalization and death. But over time the protection against infection may decrease.

“Death from COVID-19 is vaccine-preventable for most people living in the United States,” Daly said.

But if the CDC agrees, the millions more Americans who are six months past their last Pfizer or Moderna shot could get an extra dose of protection before the new year. Modern Booster comes as a half dose of the earlier shots. Anyone who has already received a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine can get a booster after two months.

Teen boosters are not yet discussed, and child-sized doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are currently underway for children ages 5 to 11.

The push to expand the booster comes as new COVID-19 cases continue to rise over the past three weeks, especially in states where cold weather is driving people indoors. Some states didn’t wait for federal officials to act and opened up boosters to all adults.

Marks said he understands why some governors overtook the FDA.

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“We’re going into a colder season, cases soaring, high travel season, indoors people are sharing good vacation times together,” he said. “They probably saw what could happen here, and were trying – well intended – to do something.”

A booster for all was the original goal of the Biden administration. But so far, US health officials – backed by their scientific advisers – have questioned the need for such a widespread booster. Instead, they supported Pfizer or Modern Booster only for vulnerable groups such as older Americans or those at high risk of COVID-19 because of health problems, their jobs or their living conditions.

This time, the FDA concluded the overall benefit of additional protection from the third dose for any adult with rare side effects from Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, such as a type of heart inflammation seen mostly in young men.

Several other countries have discouraged the use of Moderna Vaccine in young people because of that concern, citing data suggesting that rare side effects may be slightly higher with that vaccine than with its rival.

Pfizer told CDC advisors that in a booster study of 10,000 people under the age of 16, there were no more serious side effects from the third vaccine dose than the first. That study found a booster reinstated protection against symptomatic infections to about 95%, while the extra-infectious delta variant was on the rise.

Britain recently released real-world data showing a similar leap in safety after it began offering boosters to middle-aged and older adults, and Israel introduced widespread boosters to help ward off another wave of the virus. credited to.

More than 195 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, defined as receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or single-dose J&J. More than 30 million have already received the booster. This includes some people who were not eligible; Many vaccine sites were not testing eligibility.

Some experts worry that a full focus on boosters could harm efforts to reach the 60 million Americans who are eligible for vaccination but haven’t received the shots. There is also growing concern that richer countries are offering comprehensive boosters when poorer countries have not been able to vaccinate more than a small portion of their population.

“In terms of the No. 1 priority for reducing transmission in this country and around the world, this is getting people their first vaccine series,” said Dr. David Downey from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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