Local doctors react to FDA panel’s decision on COVID-19 booster shots

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Should everyone 16 and older get a COVID-19 booster shot?

The answer is no, according to members of the FDA’s advisory committee.

Friday, the panel voted against giving Pfizer’s booster shots to most people, agreeing to give them only to those 65 and older as well as those at risk for severe illness.

RELATED: FDA advisers recommend Pfizer booster shots for people aged 65+, at high-risk

Dr. Steve Threlkeld, one of the Mid-South’s top infectious disease experts, said it’s important to note that there is some evidence immunity from the vaccine dwindles over time.

But he said there’s not enough evidence to show if a third shot would be safe and effective for the younger population.

“The data out there, though accumulating in favor of doing some boosting, did not quite stretch to the safety of the younger age group. That was really a problem for some of the members of the panel, so they said no,” Dr. Threlkeld said.

He agrees more research must be done before a booster is offered to the younger population.

“What is ok for a 72-year-old and retired military officer is not the same as what is best for a 16-year-old high school football player,” he said.

Data from the CDC shows more than 2 million Americans have already taken a COVID booster shot.

Dr. Threlkeld said many of those likely didn’t qualify for the recommendations.

“It should have never been, hey, we’re starting a third shot for everyone next month. That never should have been the message,” he said. “Unfortunately, it became the message, and it confuses people because that was not the message of the scientists that study this thing.”

The panel’s recommendation will now go to the FDA, which isn’t required to follow the advisory committee’s vote.

The FDA will have the final say on whether an emergency use authorization will be issued for the booster doses.