Reinforcements for all US adults closer with group meeting committee

Reinforcements for all US adults closer with group meeting committee

New York — An influential US advisory panel will discuss expanding eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to all adults on Friday, a move that could make the shots available nationwide as early as this weekend.

Some cities and states already allow all adults to get Pfizer boosters, but it’s not yet official US policy. Last week, California, New Mexico, Arkansas, West Virginia and Colorado expanded the picks to include all adults. New York City made a similar move.

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Pfizer asked US regulators last week to allow a COVID-19 vaccine boost to anyone 18 or older. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to sign Pfizer’s request before an advisory committee meeting on Friday. The final step – the official recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – could come soon after the meeting.

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This step will greatly expand who is eligible. The boosters are now recommended for people who initially received their second shots from Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago if they are 65 years of age or older or are at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to health issues or their working or living conditions. Boosters are also recommended for people who have received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months prior.

Nearly 31 million Americans have already received a dose that exceeds the original vaccination, including those with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients who need an extra dose to be fully vaccinated.

While the three vaccines used in the United States continue to provide strong protection against severe COVID-19 illness and death, the effectiveness of vaccines against milder infections could wane over time.

Pfizer has presented early results of a booster study of 10,000 people to prove it’s time to expand the booster campaign. The study found that a booster could restore protection against symptomatic infection to about 95%, even with a high, highly infectious delta variant. The side effects were similar to those seen in the company’s first two shots.

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Members of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee have discussed at previous meetings whether there is sufficient evidence that boosters are currently required for all adults.

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Associated Press writer Matthew Perrone contributed to this story from Washington.

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