FDA Authorizes Second Booster for Ages 50 and Older

CDC will weigh in next on the extra COVID shots
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2022 7:34 AM CDT
Updated Mar 29, 2022 10:00 AM CDT
FDA May Open 2nd Boosters to Those as Young as 50
A sign for COVID-19 booster shots at the door of a grocery store in Sioux Falls, SD.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Update: The FDA on Tuesday authorized a second booster shot for people ages 50 and older, reports the Washington Post. The Pfizer or Moderna shots won't be made available until the CDC weighs in, and the agency is expected to quickly back the extra booster for those whose first booster came at least four months earlier. The government, however, isn't expected to explicitly recommend that people get the shots. Our original story from Monday follows:

The FDA is expected to make a new move on second booster shots for COVID this week. NPR reports the agency plans to authorize them for those ages 50 and older. However, because the data on their effectiveness is still relatively scant, the agency won't explicitly recommend that people get them, only make it possible for them to do so, per the Washington Post. The decision could come as early as Tuesday. The New York Times notes another uncertainty in the mix: The move will make sense in hindsight if another surge in cases hits the US this spring, but if such a wave doesn't come until the fall, the extra shots might be seen as a waste.

All the stories contain a mix of opinions from health officials on the strategy.

  • In favor: "We have a large number of people who are at least four to six months past their third shot," Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Translational Institute tells NPR. "Without protection against the omicron variant, particularly now we're confronting BA.2, there's a very high risk of hospitalization and death."
  • Skeptical: "One of the things I am trying to think through is at what point do we say we can’t boost our way out of the pandemic," says Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "We need better vaccines. I am begging for a vaccine 2.0 or 3.0."
(Read more COVID booster shots stories.)

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