The eyes of the world are currently fixated on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but there is still some important news regarding COVID-19 and that’s the fact that the Food and Drug Administration has permitted a second booster dose of the vaccine for older people starting from the age of 50 and above.
The decision was to further help increase the immunity of those in this category against the risk posed by the Omicron variant of the virus.
The agency added that the new booster, which is a fourth round of shots for most vaccine recipients, is from permitted pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
To be eligible, previous vaccination must have been at least four months prior and the intention is to further aid the body’s immune system in other to properly fight against the disease and reduce hospitalization by all means.
As for younger people who have compromised immune systems starting from the age of 12, FDA also authorizes the usage of second booster shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines while those who opt for Moderna must be from the age of 18 and older.
One of the reasons for the new decision is due to some scientists raising concerns about the highly contagious and the newly predominant BA.2 Omicron subvariant which is on the rise in some countries across the globe.
COVID-19 cases in the United States have dropped sharply since a record surge in January, but have seen a small uptick over the past week, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals,” top FDA official Dr. Peter Marks said in a statement.
The FDA has however looked at data from an ongoing clinical trial in Israel in order to form an opinion about the adoption of the booster shots. Other measures were put into place including safety data from over 700,000 people who have received second boosters in Israel all of who have revealed that there were concerns.
For months, scientists and officials have debated if and when an additional booster shot campaign should start but there was a need for sufficient data to back up whatever decision that they take.
“It’s not clear that now is the right time for people to get the fourth dose,” Dr. William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.
However, there are reports that if there is a surge in cases later by late Fall or early Winter, which is a time that repsiratory viruses and influenza often become rampart, there could be requirements for an aditional booster sho, he said.
The body’s neutralizing antibodies spurred on by a fourth booster given now may decline in just a few months, he added.
What is unclear is whether young, healthy people will need a fourth shot. Judging by the study of the Israeli healthcare workers cited by the FDA, the fourth dose added little additional protection in the age group.
The United States government has however made it known that it has more than enough doses to go around in case there’s need for another round of booster shots in older Americans.
Currently, two-thirds of fully vaccinated Americans over the age of 65 and those between the age of 50 and 64 have gotten their first booster dose so far.