FDA Panel Rejects Pfizer Booster Shots For General Population

Health
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Damir Mujezinovic

The coronavirus pandemic in the United States is not waning. On the contrary, the rapid spread of the highly-contagious Delta variant has forced policymakers and public health officials alike to look into vaccine booster shots.

On Friday, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted 16-2 against approving booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for Americans older than 16.

After that, the panel voted unanimously to approve Pfizer boosters in Americans 65 and older and those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, as reported by CNN.

Read more below.

Vaccinations

The FDA panel's votes are non-binding, but they nonetheless send a powerful signal amid Joe Biden administration's efforts to roll out booster shots and contain the virus.

Additionally, according to medical director for infection prevention at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Steven Pergam, the FDA panel's recommendation does not cover health care workers, who are constantly exposed to COVID-19.

Head of the FDA's vaccine arm Peter Marks said that the agency has asked the panel to consider possible changes in "wording" for the emergency use authorization.

CDC Panel

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A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel will meet next week, according to Politico.

The panel will discuss "the parameters" for the administration of booster shots for high risk groups, which will most likely include obese people and health care workers.

The CDC maintains that all three coronavirus vaccines available in the U.S. -- Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson -- still provide protection against hospitalization and severe disease.

"Reasons for lower effectiveness likely include both waning over time and Delta variant," explained Sara Oliver, a doctor with CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Getting Vaccinated

More than 54 percent of all Americans have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus. Experts say that getting everyone vaccinated as soon as possible is key to stopping the Delta variant.

Dr. Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, suggested that it's too early to talk about booster shots.

"I don't think a booster dose is going to significantly contribute to controlling the pandemic. It is very important that the main message that we still transmit is that we have got to get everyone two doses. Everyone has got to get the primary series," he told CNN.

Vaccine Mandates

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President Joe Biden issued new vaccine mandates this month, requiring all business with more than 100 employees to vaccinate all workers or commit to regular testing.

Conservative critics condemned Biden's order as an attack on individual liberty and free enterprise, but voters seem to support it.

In an Axios poll, 84 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independent voters, and 30 percent of Republicans said they support Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.

The same survey found that a majority of Americans approve of Biden's decision to implement a vaccine mandate for federal employees.

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