FDA Approves Second Booster for Certain Groups

On March 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted some people permission to receive a second COVID-19 booster shot. The FDA recently released a statement allowing adults 50 and older who received their first booster four months ago or more to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 booster vaccines. According to the FDA, some immunocompromised people are also qualified for a second vaccine booster.

More specifically, four months after receiving their first booster dose, immunocompromised people aged 12 and older can receive a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Immunocompromised adults age 18 and older may receive a second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine four months after receiving their first booster shot.

The FDA previously shortened its recommendations for COVID-19 booster shots, advising a booster five months after the second dose of the two-dose vaccines provided by Moderna for those ages 18 and up and Pfizer-BioNTech for those ages 12 and up. New data suggests that for high-risk individuals, a second booster provides more effective protection against COVID-19.

Who is eligible to receive a second COVID-19 booster?

those who are 50 years of age or older and had their initial Pfizer or Moderna booster dose four months ago or more.
Four months after receiving their initial booster shot, immunocompromised patients 12 years of age and older can receive a second Pfizer booster dose.
Immunocompromised adults (18+) who have received their initial Moderna booster dose within the previous four months or longer.

If you received the Johnson & Johnson booster shot, you are eligible for a follow-up booster shot four months after your initial shot, which the CDC recommends should be an mRNA vaccine.

Experts claim that mRNA boosters are typically preferred. (Joint & Johnson’s adenovector vaccine and booster doses of the mRNA Moderna vaccine are only approved for those who are 18 and older.)

Currently, so-called “mix-and-match” boosters are permitted, which means you can choose to receive a different COVID-19 vaccine booster shot than the one you previously received. But why do we even need boosters in the first place? How well do boosters work against Omicron? And how do you register to receive your dose? Here is all the information you need to know about COVID-19 vaccine boosters, per medical professionals.

How do booster shots for vaccines work?

The CDC explains that after a while, immunity starts to diminish for some vaccines. A “booster” dose is required to restore immunity levels at that point. The purpose of booster shots is to boost your body’s immune response by giving you additional doses of a vaccine sometime after receiving the first dose.

Some boosters, such as the one for tetanus, which should be administered every ten years, are only occasionally advised. Others are more frequent as a result of factors like shifting pathogens and declining immunity (like the annual flu shot). Every year, different strains of the flu virus circulate, necessitating an annual shot to protect against the most common types during flu season.

Do booster shots protect against Omicron and Delta?

The nation’s foremost authority on infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, M.D., stated on the podcast The Daily in November that “it’s very clear that [a booster] reverses some of the waning effects that you see in people who have been vaccinated for six months or more when you look at the data from Israel.” Booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine “will be an absolutely essential component of our response,” in fact. Not an extra, not a luxury, but a crucial component of the program.

Although COVID-19 vaccine boosters seem to protect against Delta well, experts say it’s still unclear how well they protect against Omicron; further study is required to make a determination. But preliminary findings are encouraging: Three doses of Pfizer’s vaccine effectively “neutralize” the Omicron variant of COVID-19, providing 25 times more antibody protection than two doses alone, according to preliminary studies.

Promising findings were also obtained from similar Moderna studies. Although two doses of Moderna provided only marginal protection against Omicron, a booster shot induced 37 times the antibodies 29 days later. (The vaccine also produced 83 times as many antibodies after a full third dose as it did after two doses.) Moderna’s CEO StĂ©phane Bancel stated at a healthcare conference hosted by Goldman Sachs on Thursday that the first booster shot’s effectiveness is anticipated to last through the winter.

All eligible Americans should receive a booster dose, according to the CDC. All three vaccines are available to those who are 18 years of age and older, while those between the ages of 12 and 17 can receive a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. According to the CDC, vaccinations continue to be the best public health measure to protect against COVID-19, slow transmission, and lessen the likelihood of new variants emerging.

Is a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot necessary for full protection?

“According to current research, older and immunocompromised individuals may experience some waning of COVID-19 protection over time against serious outcomes. Peter Marks, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, stated that based on an analysis of newly available 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.

Results revealed a drop in COVID-19 antibody levels just two weeks after receiving the second booster dose, as opposed to five months after the first booster dose.

The FDA is also still stressing how crucial it is to get a first booster. According to the data, an initial booster dose is essential for shielding all adults from COVID-19’s potentially harmful effects.

Why are second boosters for Pfizer and Moderna necessary after four months for high-risk individuals?

Dr. Walensky stated earlier in November that the additional doses are beneficial due to “the current pandemic situation, the most recent vaccine effectiveness data over time, and review of safety data from people who have already received a COVID-19 primary vaccine series and booster.” As we approach the winter holidays, they are “an important public health tool to strengthen our defences against the virus.”

The United States Department of Health and Human Services officials (including Dr. Walensky and Dr. Fauci) wrote in August that “the available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease.”

For instance, according to a small study of Israeli public health data published in late July, the Pfizer vaccine was only 39% as effective at protecting people from COVID-19 infection in June and early July as it had been from January to early April. (However, in June and July, the vaccine was still more than 90% effective in preventing serious illness in people.)

According to Dr. Schaffner, the antibody levels produced by the vaccine are beginning to decline by eight months. Officials advise booster shots for this reason, which is also the main reason you should get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Where can you get a booster dose?

Boosters are now widely accessible, and since the White House has committed to continuing to produce 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine annually going forward, there should never be a shortage of available doses.

Make sure the appropriate amount of time has passed since your last dose before scheduling a booster. Then, to find a vaccination location close to you, use the CDC’s website, get in touch with your primary care physician, or go to the county’s public health website. Online appointment scheduling is also available at pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.

Bottom line: Booster doses are now a reality.

Abhijit Duggal, M.D., a critical care specialist at Cleveland Clinic, says “The vaccines are so important.” “We must quickly get to the point where as many people as possible are immunized. The biggest thing we can do to resume some semblance of normalcy is that.

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