MPA | Pharmacy News

The recommendation is not binding. A decision about boosters from the FDA is expected this week.
 

Expert advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously Friday to recommend that the agency authorize a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine six months after vaccination for people 65 years and older and for anyone at risk for severe illness.

The vote is not binding, and Peter Marks, the FDA official overseeing coronavirus vaccines, indicated that the final decision could be slightly different, encompassing people who are at higher risk of infection because of their professions, such as health-care workers and front-line employees, including teachers. The advisory committee members were polled on whether they would agree with making boosters available to people who were at risk of infection because of workplace exposure, and they all said yes.

A decision about boosters from the FDA is expected by this week, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee is slated to meet Wednesday and Thursday to recommend how a third shot should be used. The FDA advisory committee, following Pfizer’s lead, recommended that the third shot be given at least six months after the second.

Friday’s protracted online meeting, the most important FDA advisory committee meeting since the vaccines were first authorized, gave the Biden administration and Pfizer some, but not all, of what they wanted. Boosters will be on the way into many millions of arms — with the exact number depending on how the FDA and the CDC decide who meets the criteria for being at high risk of serious illness.

The consideration of booster shots comes as the United States endures a fourth wave of covid-19 infections, with hospitals in some corners of the nation confronting the long-feared prospect of rationing care and having to decide which patients receive access to treatments and medical equipment. And the debate has sparked criticism from some officials in the global health community who argue that the U.S. discussion of boosters betrays selfishness, as many in the world do not have access to a first dose of vaccine.

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