U.S. health advisers said Thursday that some Americans who received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine should get a half-dose booster to bolster protection against the virus.
The panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to recommend a booster shot for seniors, adults with other health problems, jobs or living situations that put them at increased risk for COVID-19.
The recommendation is non-binding but it’s a key step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign to millions more Americans. Many people who got their initial Pfizer shots at least six months ago are already getting a booster after the FDA authorized their use last month.
As for the dose, initial Moderna vaccination consists of two 100-microgram shots. But Moderna says a single 50-microgram shot should be enough for a booster.
The agency convened its experts Thursday and Friday to weigh-in on who should get boosters and when for people that received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots earlier this year.
The FDA will use its advisers’ recommendations in making final decisions for boosters from both companies. Next week, a panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will offer more specifics on who should get one.
U.S. officials stress that the priority is to get shots to the 66 million unvaccinated Americans who are eligible for immunization — those most at risk as the extra-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has burned across the country.
“It’s important to remember that the vaccines still provide strong protection against serious outcomes” such as hospitalization and death from COVID-19, said FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks.
But Marks said it’s also become clear there is some waning of protection against milder infections with all three of the coronavirus vaccines used in the U.S. And he encouraged the advisory panel to consider if the evidence backs similar booster recommendations for all of them as well, since that would “create the least confusion” for the public.
Moderna is seeking FDA clearance for a booster used just like Pfizer’s: For people 65 and older, or adults with other health problems, jobs or living situations that put them at increased risk of serious coronavirus — once they are at least six months past their last dose.
The FDA will use its advisers’ recommendations in deciding whether to authorize Moderna boosters. If it does, there’s still another hurdle: Next week, a panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will offer more specifics on who should get one.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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