US regulators on Friday expanded eligibility for booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccines to all adults, allowing millions more Americans to receive additional protection against the virus amid a recent surge in infections.
Rochelle Valensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signed off on expanded eligibility Friday evening after the US Food and Drug Administration expanded its authorization of booster doses for all adults who received their second shot of Pfizer/ Was. BioNTech or Moderna Inc vaccine at least six months in advance.
Regulators previously authorized boosters for all recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine, two months after their primary dose.
“Booster shots have demonstrated their ability to safely enhance the protection of people against infection and serious consequences and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus,” Valensky said in a statement.
According to CDC data, most adults were already eligible for additional shots, but less than 18% had received one. But many public health officials felt that the previous eligibility requirements were too complex.
Nirav Shah, a top official in Maine Public Health and president of the Association of State and Territorial Health, said, “The current guidelines – although well thought out and thoughtful – hinder the advance of boosters. In the pursuit of accuracy, they create confusion. We do.” Officer.
“Our concern is that eligible persons are not getting boosters right now,” Shah said.
According to an agency spokesperson, the CDC declined to say that all adults should get the booster. For people aged 18 to 49, the agency said they can get the vaccine if they wish.
The CDC went on to further clarify the recommendations for people aged 50 to 64, suggesting that everyone in this age group should get a booster, not just those with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk. put in.
The agency’s guidelines reflected recommendations unanimously supported by a panel of CDC advisors earlier in the day.
cases are rising
After nearly two months of declining infections, the United States has recorded a daily increase for the past two weeks, driven by the more easily transmitted Delta version of the virus and people spending more time indoors due to cold weather.
Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, Calif., said the guidance was not sufficient to encourage booster doses.
The United States could face a huge wave of Covid-19 cases this winter, Topol said, and security is now waning.
“We are sitting ducks,” he said.
The country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, said this week that boosters, along with increasing overall vaccinations, should help the country move past the worst of the pandemic in the coming months.
The FDA said its decision was supported by data showing that the third round of shots increased immune responses to the virus in studies of both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.
Some scientists are concerned about rare cases of heart inflammation in young men after vaccination, especially for those receiving the Moderna vaccine. Data from Israel suggested that the rate of heart inflammation after the third dose of Pfizer vaccine is lower than after the second dose.
The Biden administration previously proposed boosters for all in August, but has made them available in phases because health experts argue there was not enough data to support the need for further vaccination in all groups.
More than 32 million Americans have received boosters, which were authorized for people who are immunocompromised, age 65 and older, and for individuals with health problems that put them at high risk of serious disease, including obesity, or who Are regularly exposed to the virus. through work or living conditions.
About 60 percent of adult Americans – some 195.7 million people – are believed to be fully vaccinated, having received two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or one shot of J&J vaccine.