An expert committee advising the CDC just endorsed booster shots for all adults.
The committee said people under 50 may get boosted, but those over 50 really should.
If the CDC director agrees, this would allow many fully vaccinated people in the US to get boosted before the holidays.
Booster shots are likely going to become available to all vaccinated adults in the US this weekend.
Independent doctors, nurses, and public health experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just voted unanimously to recommend booster shots for everyone over age 18 — though the recommendation is stronger for adults over age 50.
(Boosts are administered at least six months after Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, and at least two months after Johnson & Johnson.)
The committee’s endorsement came after the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer and Moderna boosters to all adults Friday morning.
The final decision on boosts-for-all rests in the hands of CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who usually green-lights these recommendations within hours. Her evening approval, if granted Friday, would set up a weekend of fresh booster shot appointments for adults of all ages around the country, just in time to ramp up community-wide protection against the coronavirus ahead of many indoor holiday gatherings.
Already, booster shots are being given out to all adults in New York City, California, Colorado, and New Mexico, skirting around the CDC’s more stringent earlier guidelines, which stressed that boosters are most heartily needed in older adults.
But public health experts worry those more specific guidelines have created lots of confusion about who is eligible, and more simplicity is needed at this point in the pandemic.
“There was not a single state that voiced opposition to this move,” Nirav Shah, president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said at the meeting.
“In pursuit of precision,” he said, the CDC guidelines “create confusion” which means that many who are eligible to get boosters do not.
It’s still true that older adults need boosters more urgently than younger ones do. But infectious disease experts have also stressed that the space between initial shots and boosts, at several months long, gives the body more time mount a more robust, and (hopefully) longer lasting immune response, giving people a stronger form of protection against the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci recently told Insider that even though “the vaccines absent the boost protect quite well,” against severe outcomes, “the effect of boost is very, very favorable to preventing people from getting infected,” because it drives the immune response even higher than the original shots.
CDC committee member Dr. Sarah Long, a pediatrician, said the new, more simplified booster recommendation “does make sense and it is reasonable” even if 18 to 39 year olds don’t really need boosters as much as older adults.
“The longer you wait to give the boost, the stronger the response will be,” immunology expert Dr. James Hildreth, president of Meharry Medical College, recently told Insider. “More importantly, the antibodies affinities get higher the longer you wait, because there’s an affinity maturation that happens.”
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