UNITED STATES: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 and over and some high-risk Americans, paving the way for a quick rollout of the shots.
The booster dose is to be administered at least six months after completion of the second dose, and the authorization would include people most susceptible to severe illness and those who work in front-line jobs, the FDA said.
For its part, the FDA says “health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons” should be on that list, acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
It means tens of millions of Americans are now eligible for their third shot.
However, the boosters still need approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC advisory panel is expected to vote on Thursday on the use of a third shot of the vaccine, an agency official said at a public meeting of the panel on Wednesday.
The FDA move is a victory for President Joe Biden, who had announced in August that booster vaccines would be available from this month as long as they received approval from the FDA and CDC.
Advisers to the FDA voted on Friday to recommend Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for Americans 65 and older and those at high risk of severe illness, after overwhelmingly rejecting a call for broader approval.
The advisory panel said there was not enough evidence to support booster shots for 16-year-olds and older who had received a second dose at least six months earlier and also sought more safety data.
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For now, the decision only applies to Americans who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. Booster approval of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs is yet underway.
The U.K. government has announced that it will offer boosters to everyone over 50 and to other vulnerable people as it heads towards the winter months. In Israel, boosters are already being offered to children as young as 12.
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