FDA has approved the COVID-19 booster for people 65 years or older

The US Food and Drug Administration committee has approved the COVID-19 booster injections for people 65 years of age or older. What does that mean for Connecticut?

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration committee recommended coronavirus booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 65 years or older or susceptible to COVID-19.

The committee declined to recommend doses for those under 65, citing a lack of evidence that it is currently necessary, despite President Joe Biden's hopes that all Americans who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be able to receive a booster injection eight months after taking them the second dose.

Biden had initially been promised booster doses to all Americans who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, then stressed that group to only those who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine before the FDA on Friday narrowed eligibility further.

Hospital officials say they are ready to dispense booster doses in Connecticut once they get permission from CDC, which reportedly could come as early as next week.

Here's what Friday's decision means.

Who will be eligible for booster shots?

Suppose the FDA and CDC accept the committee's recommendations, which could happen in the next week. In that case, the booster shots will be available to anyone 65 years of age or older or at risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms -- But only those who originally received Pfizer's biotech vaccine.

People who are eligible for booster shots will receive them six months after the second shot.

People who get the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not yet allowed the booster shots. Moderna has applied a booster dose to the FDA and hopes to obtain permission soon. Johnson & Johnson has not come forward to distribute booster doses.

When will they be able to get it?

Although the timeline is not yet apparent, Governor Ned Lamont said Thursday that residents of a Connecticut nursing home expect to receive booster shots within the next week to 10 days.

"Hurry up," Lamont urged federal regulators. "These people were vaccinated in many cases eight months ago; they are the most at risk – and they are where you gather them. I have to follow the rules, but I will hurry."

A small number of Americans -- those with moderately or severely compromised immunity -- are eligible to receive booster injections. That means in Connecticut, about 100,000 people, more than 20,000 of whom have already benefited.

Why are booster injections important?

Since the COVID-19 vaccines were first introduced, experts have warned that their confer immunity may wane over time. Now, some research suggests that this is starting to happen, at least to some extent.

"Studies have shown that immunity is waning," said Dr. Ulysses Wu, an infectious disease specialist at Hartford Healthcare. "But it doesn't diminish that everyone thinks we are falling off a cliff. What was probably 90% immunity when I got the vaccine is probably about 80%, which is still pretty good."

Wu said the reinforced shots would provide an extra level of protection, especially for those more vulnerable.

The controversy over the booster shot has become more pressing since the emergence of the Delta variant across the country, including Connecticut. Some experts expect cases to increase this fall as the weather cools off in the northeast and most activity moves inland.

"As we head into the fall, we see that SARS-CoV-2 is still spreading," said Dr. David Banach, an epidemiologist at UConn Health. "If boosters can prevent hospitalizations and severe disease and also potentially slow the spread of the virus, there is a lot of importance there."

Why weren't the enhanced realizations declared to everyone?

The actual necessity of booster shots at this time has been a topic of debate among scholars. While some studies have shown that immunity to COVID-19 wanes over time, others have been less conclusive.

On Wednesday, FDA scientists reported that the evidence is mixed, and the overall data indicates that vaccines "continue to protect against severe COVID-19 illness and death in the United States." On Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration panel chose not to recommend the booster doses to all Pfizer-BioNTech recipients due to a lack of evidence that they are necessary.

"It's not clear that everyone needs boosters, other than a subset of the population that will be at high risk of developing a serious disease," said Dr. Michael J. Corella, a committee member at the National Institutes of Health.

There is also a moral concern: When dozens of countries, especially in the Global South, have vaccinated less than 10% of their populations, is it fair that Americans would seek third doses? 

0/Post a Comment/Comments