HealthDay News — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday granted emergency use of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 booster shots for all adults, clearing the way to additional vaccine protection for tens of millions of Americans.

The announcement came hours before the start of a meeting of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention independent panel of vaccine experts to discuss the safety and efficacy of booster doses. Once the panel makes its recommendations, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., needs to sign off on the approvals. Both Pfizer and Moderna had applied for broader use of their booster shots within the past week. Any adult who received a second dose of either vaccine at least six months earlier should be able to get a booster as soon as this weekend.

“COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be the best and highly effective defense against COVID-19. Authorizing the use of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older helps to provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D., said in an agency news release.

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In addition to offering more protection to more Americans, the decision should make it easier for Americans to know whether they are eligible for shots, added Peter Marks, M.D., director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Streamlining the eligibility criteria and making booster doses available to all individuals 18 years of age and older will also help to eliminate confusion about who may receive a booster dose and ensure booster doses are available to all who may need one,” he said in the agency news release.

More than 32.5 million Americans have already gotten booster shots, with the number often outpacing the number of first shots given each day across the country, according to the CDC.

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