Today, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., adopted the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in certain populations. The CDC went beyond the ACIP and also recommended a booster dose for those in high risk occupational and institutional settings. This final action comports with the amendment to the emergency use authorization the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued on September 22, 2021.
Based on the data and studies presented, The CDC and FDA concluded the population will benefit from Covid vaccine boosters:
Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults aged 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent datapdf icon suggest vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms. Emerging evidence also shows that among healthcare and other frontline workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is decreasing over time. This lower effectiveness is likely due to the combination of decreasing protection as time passes since getting vaccinated (e.g., waning immunity) as well as the greater infectiousness of the Delta variant.
In the United States, the following groups are now eligible for a Pfizer booster shot if they were vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine:
- people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
- people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
- people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and
- people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.
Pursuant to the new authorization and recommendation, I’ve scheduled a Pfizer booster shot with a local healthcare provider for October 5, 2021.
The current action pertain only to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. However, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the other vaccines approved for use in the U.S., are also expected to offer evidence for boosters for their vaccines once the data is compiled.
As stated in yesterday’s post, it remains to be seen if and how the additional option of booster shots will further complicate the already convoluted world of international travel entry restrictions. It would seem that other vaccines that have not demonstrated the high level of the vaccines approved in the U.S. would also be subject to waning immunity and may need boosters as well. And if vaccine immunity wanes, then that could mean booster shots will be recommended at regular intervals
Pharmaceutical companies will be working overtime for the foreseeable future. It may now be harder for many countries to find sufficient supplies to vaccinate their populations to levels required for herd immunity. That, in my view, only increases pressure on major pharmaceutical companies to do something they don’t want to do — share with other companies and nations the knowledge and technology required to produce vaccines to meet worldwide demand.
What do you think about vaccine booster shots and the effects they might have on efforts to defeat SARS-CoV-2 or the ability to travel internationally? Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.