Last week, a federal advisory committee announced that it supports booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines for certain groups of people.
While the go-ahead for booster shots for those who have taken the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the OK to approve the shots is expected to be completed soon.
On Thursday, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee — an FDA advisory committee — voted unanimously to approve Moderna vaccine boosters for those over age 65 and those with certain medical conditions.
On Friday, the group unanimously voted to support a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The recommendations are nonbinding, but are usually accepted by the FDA.
Next, the recommendation goes to the acting FDA director for approval, then another group, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), will review the data and make its recommendation to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the committee recommends the boosters and Walensky approves, the shots will become available to the public.
The panel stressed that at least for now, there is no evidence to support opening up booster shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine to everyone.
The FDA and CDC have approved only one booster shot so far. Last month, the agencies approved a booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for those over age 65 or who have jobs that would make them more likely to come into contact with the virus.
How do you know if you are eligible for a booster shot of the vaccine? Here is what we know now.
1. Pfizer — eligible under certain circumstances
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster was approved by the FDA in September.
If you are 65 or older, or have a job that could put you at high risk for contracting COVID-19 and have had the two doses of the vaccine more than six months ago, then you are eligible for the booster.
Also, “individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19″ can get a booster now, according to the FDA.
More than 238 million Americans have received the Pfizer vaccine.
2. Moderna — no one eligible for a Moderna booster yet
The FDA and CDC are still reviewing data concerning Moderna’s booster shot, but it is expected to be approved soon, perhaps this week.
The booster shot would likely be recommended for the same group that was approved for Pfizer’s booster — those over 65 and those more likely to contract a severe case of the virus because of health reasons, or because their job puts them at greater risk for infection.
According to the FDA, Moderna is suggesting a half-dose of its original vaccine as a booster. More than 153 million Americans have received the company’s vaccine.
3. Johnson & Johnson — no one eligible for a Johnson & Johnson booster yet
As with Moderna’s vaccine, federal agencies are still reviewing data on trials for a booster of the one-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine likely “should have been a two-dose vaccine to begin with.”
A CDC report released earlier in September reported a 93% decrease in the risk of hospitalization with Moderna’s two-dose vaccine, while Pfizer’s vaccine cut the risk by 88%, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine decreased the risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19 by 71%.
According to the committee who recommended the second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week, all of the 15 million Americans who received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would benefit from a second dose.
A CDC study showed that adding a second dose two to six months after the initial Johnson & Johnson shot would provide roughly the same effectiveness against the virus as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
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