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FDA considering authorizing Pfizer’s COVID vaccine boosters for all U.S. adults, possibly before Thanksgiving

November 9, 2021, 9:45 PM UTC

Pfizer booster shots could be available to all adults in a few weeks’ time, potentially before Thanksgiving. Today, Pfizer and BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a booster shot to anyone 18 years and older. In October, Pfizer and BioNTech released their Phase 3 trial data which, based on a population of 10,000 participants, confirms 95.6% efficacy against even the Delta strain. According to the New York Times, the Food and Drug Administration is considered likely to grant the request, possibly before Thanksgiving.

Moderna is reportedly set to ask for the same eligibility expansion, although it’s unclear when.

Currently, anyone over the age of 18 who received a first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than 2 months ago can receive a booster shot. Those who had the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine can only receive a booster after six months of being fully vaccinated if they are at least 65 years old, or over 18 with a compromised immune system, living in long-term care, or exposed to a high-risk living or working environment. 

COVID-19 medical experts and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a joint decision on August 18 to roll out booster shots starting this September. The decision was based on current data that “even highly effective vaccines become less effective over time” and on the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant, explained U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. 

Last month, President Biden asked those not yet eligible for boosters to remain patient, confident that more adults would have access soon. Even so, the booster timeline is up to the approval of the Food and Drug Administration, which has previously pushed back on more widespread booster eligibility. According to the New York Times, some advisers for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA are unconvinced that boosters are actually necessary for people under the age 65. 

So far, the CDC website reports that 24.8 million people have received a booster shot. While the CDC reports that 67.5% of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccine dose, some hospitals are still at capacity due to the Delta variant.

In a public statement on November 3, President Biden urged the public to “encourage” their loved ones to get vaccinated with a note of hope: “A year ago, we were heading into a Thanksgiving where — experts were advising against traveling or gathering with family and friends,” he said. “Later this month, our tables and our hearts are going to be filled, thanks to the vaccines.”

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