UConn Health doctor weighs in on COVID booster eligibility after FDA only approves for those over 65, at high risk

Coronavirus

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Booster shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be administered as early as Friday, but who will get one is still up for discussion.

RELATED: US panel backs COVID-19 boosters only for elderly, high-risk

“What the FDA review showed was in the general population, at this date and time, there wasn’t sufficient data to support booster doses,” said Dr. David Banach, hospital epidemiologist at UConn Health.

Last week, the FDA’s advisory committee voted overwhelmingly not to recommend a third shot for people 16 and up. However, they did vote to authorize a booster dose at least six months after full vaccination for people who are 65 and older as well as individuals who are at high risk for severe COVID.

“In older populations, there seems to be some potential benefit to giving a third dose within the Pfizer group,” said Dr. Banach.

Dr. Banach said more information is expected in the days to come as this matter heads to the CDC’s independent advisory panel this week.

“It’s going to provide more granular recommendations on how to proceed with that 65 and older group and potentially other groups as well,” said Dr. Banach. He added one of the groups up for discussion is healthcare workers.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, there’s no word yet on what happens next. Those discussions are expected in the coming weeks.

As the wait for these recommendations to be finalized continues, the state Department of Public Health said they stand ready to administer boosters.

The DPH stresses there’s an adequate supply of vaccines available and these vaccines have proven to be effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

“The most effective strategy at this point is vaccinating those who haven’t been vaccinated yet,” said Dr. Banach. “That’s key, in terms of reducing the amount of transmission in the community and that will protect individuals who are vaccinated as well from developing those breakthrough infections.”

This timeline for booster doses is subject to change as more information becomes available. 

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