Boosters Debate Comes to a Head

A patient receives her booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Southfield, Michigan, August 24, 2021. Image: Emily Elconin/Getty
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A patient receives her booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Southfield, Michigan, August 24, 2021. Image: Emily Elconin/Getty

Who, if anyone, needs a COVID-19 booster shot, and when? The debate is far from settled.
 
In a high-stakes meeting tomorrow, FDA advisors will give their non-binding recommendation on whether to approve Pfizer’s booster application, STAT reports.  
 
Boosters for older people in nursing homes and the immunocompromised are broadly favored. But Pfizer’s request for boosters for people 16 and older, 6 months after their second dose, has divided the scientific and medical communities.
 
In favor: Drugmakers and some researchers emphasize data showing waning vaccine immunity, relying heavily on Israeli research showing the shot’s effectiveness dropped from 95% in January to 39% in June.
 
Against: Detractors say vaccines are still preventing serious illness and death–-and known and unknown biases may be skewing the data.   

  • If the FDA okays boosters, the CDC will dictate who gets them.

  • An FDA “no” will read as a rebuke of the Biden administration’s plan to deploy boosters across the US, which some doctors have already run with, The Washington Post reports.

 
“There are already doctors recommending booster doses, and there are patients who have gone out there, through hook or crook, and have received boosters already,” said Vanderbilt University School’s William Schaffner.
 

Related: 
 
Hong Kong panel advises single dose of BioNTech COVID shot for teens – Reuters
 
Covid: Single jab recommended for 12 to 15-year-olds by UK's top doctors – BBC
 
Few people medically exempt from getting COVID-19 vaccine – ABC

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