WASHINGTON — For now, COVID-19 booster shots are not available to everyone. The FDA advisory panel overwhelmingly rejected the plan to offer booster shots for most Americans. The committee recommends the third Pfizer shot to people 65 years and older and other vulnerable Americans, including front-line workers and other professions that face more exposure to COVID.
Dr. Michael Kurilla, an infectious disease specialist at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences was one of the vaccine advisers for the FDA. He and other members of the committee explained they don't see enough evidence that justifies shots for everyone and they are worried what the third shot would do to young adults and children.
"It's not clear to me that the data we are seeing right now is applicable and is necessary to the general population," Kurila said.
The panel voted 16-to-2 against the plan backed by the Bidden Administration. The plan would have given a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine to most Americans six months after their second dose. Doctor Paul Offit, a professor of pediatrics at the children's hospital of Philadelphia explained his skepticism for the booster.
He along with other members question Pfizer’s conclusion that immunity is declining to the point that vaccinated people of all ages need an additional dose to protect them. The committee said they are worried about if a third dose would risk myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle in younger people.
“We are being asked to approve this as a three-dose vaccine for people 16 years of age and older, without any clear evidence that the third dose for a younger person, when compared to an elderly person is of value, and if it's not of value then the risks out ways the benefits," Offit said.
Pfizer’s team told the panel Friday a need for a booster is based on data from Israel. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of the public health services at Israel’s Health Ministry said fully vaccinated people were infecting other people in their household and at times ended up hospitalized.
“We definitely see that cases that are vaccinated, doubly vaccinated, that are no longer fresh six months from their second dose,” Alroy-Preis said. “These vaccinated cases are infecting other people. It's obviously less than non-vaccinated, but we're seeing that, especially in their household."
The FDA still has to approve the third booster for Pfizer. This was just a recommendation from an advisory committee and a final decision by the FDA is expected within days.