WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those 65 and older, all people at high risk of severe disease, and others who are regularly exposed to the virus.
The decision paves the way for a quick rollout of the booster shots as soon as this week for millions of people who had their second dose of the vaccine at least six months ago.
The change to the vaccine’s emergency use authorization will allow boosters for groups such as health-care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, FDA acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
Pfizer had asked the FDA to expand its vaccine approval to include boosters for all people aged 16 and older and presented data last week to an outside FDA panel of advisers that it said showed waning immunity over time.
Scientists emphasized that the country’s main concern should still be vaccinating those who have not received any doses.
“I want to highlight that in September of 2021 in the United States, deaths from COVID-19 are largely vaccine preventable, with the primary series of any of the three vaccines available,” said Dr. Matthew Daley.
Just over 55 per cent of Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. As the highly transmissible delta variant continues to spread, the U.S. is recording its highest daily death tolls from the virus since March.