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FDA expected to OK additional COVID-19 booster for adults over 50 this week

booster shots
Posted at 3:31 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 21:09:31-04

(WXYZ) — A second COVID-19 booster shot may be approved as early as this week for adults 50 and older. The Biden Administration is expected to offer additional mRNA boosters without officially recommending them.

It’s called permissive recommendation. It means that a second booster shot would be allowed for those who want one, even though they’re not officially recommended.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the FDA will not authorize the fourth shot. The agency is expected to meet and approve the fourth dose this week – for Pfizer and Moderna – for people aged 50 and up.

The decision is not without controversy as there are some uncertainties. For instance, we’re not sure how long the protection from a second booster lasts. One study from Israel found enhanced protection for three months for people aged 60 and up.

There are also uncertainties as to when a second booster should be administered. Our numbers are currently low. But omicron’s subvariant BA.2 is causing surges in Europe. And even though health officials are not expecting the same to happen in the US, we are seeing case numbers rising in parts of the Northeast.

The main argument for approving a second booster is to help protect against unnecessary deaths. If a new wave were to hit sometime before fall, an additional dose would prevent thousands of hospitalizations and potentially save thousands of lives.

Timing is important. If the second booster shot is given too soon, antibodies may have diminished if a wave hits later in the year. But if we wait, and then a wave hits in the coming months, people could die. Experts are doing their best. And while more data is needed to fully understand the pros and cons of a second booster, it’s also important to protect those who are most vulnerable.

Now, do the vaccines need to be adjusted because of omicron and other potential variants? That is something scientists are working on. Over a dozen studies have kicked off trying to find the next generation of shots - a vaccine that’s universal and also lasts longer. Both Moderna and Pfizer are also working on omicron-specific vaccines as well. Pfizer had said they expected results this month.

Vaccination is the safer route when it comes to protection against COVID-19. Yet many Americans have not got their booster shot. So if the FDA authorizes a second booster, I encourage our older generation especially to get boosted. It’s unfortunate, but older folks are most at risk of dying, and getting boosted will up protection against the coronavirus.

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