IMAGE: AP (representative)
A day after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID booster dose, a 15-member Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel unanimously endorsed the distribution of the same for elderly and at-risk American adults. The additional Pfizer booster dosage will now be offered to eligible adults from 18-65 years of age. Additionally, health care workers, teachers, grocers and those living in clustered accommodations like prisons may also receive the booster jab.
The decision to offer Pfizer booster jabs to 65 years and people under long-term care facilities was voted for by all 15 members of the CDC. However, a booster dose for individuals between 50-64 (with certain high-risk conditions) was voted for by 13 members. The extra dose will be allowed only after an eligible candidate has crossed six months since his/her last Pfizer shot, as per the statement issued by Pfizer. The Biden administration had planned to roll out booster doses in the United States from 20 September.
In a "critical milestone", the FDA approved the booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine after considerable discussion on the benefit-risk balance. The decision was passed "after considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts," the US FDA said in a statement. About 22 million Americans will be eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID booster jabs, as per a bulletin released by the CDC.
As per the CDC bulletin, the third COVID vaccine dose will be available for people who are considered mildly or severely immunocompromised. People under specific medications as recommended by the CDC can avail of the booster shot since they might suffer from the decreased immune system. Here is a list of the categories eligible for the third dose.
1. People under active cancer or tumour treatment.
2. Underwent an organ transplant and/or are taking medicines to suppress the immune system.
3. Have had a stem cell transplant in the last two years
4. Diagnosed with Digeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.
5. Diagnosed with HIV or low CD4 count, including high dosage of steroids or other medications that may cause severe suppression of the immune system.