To request Mental Health
Services or to access Mental
Health Crisis Services Call:

Medical Disorders
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Pfizer Says Lower Dose of Its COVID Vaccine Protects Younger ChildrenDeadly Liver Disease Tied to Obesity Is on the RiseCDC Signs Off on Moderna, J&J Boosters, Backs Mix n' Match ShotsMoving Monoclonal Antibody Treatments for COVID From Hospital to HomeConfusion, Seizures: People Hospitalized After Taking Veterinary Drug for COVIDMandates, Not Recommendations, Work Best to Get Folks Vaccinated: StudyPfizer Vaccine Booster Restores Nearly Full Protection, Company SaysTen Years On, Gene Therapy Still Beating Most Cases of 'Bubble Boy' Immune DiseaseSex of Fetus May Matter When COVID Strikes in PregnancyU.S. Has Shared 200 Million Shots With Other CountriesSalmonella Outbreak in 37 States Linked to Imported OnionsFDA Approves Moderna, J&J Booster Shots, Backs Mix n' Match VaccinesWhite House Announces COVID Vaccination Plan for Young KidsEven With Mild COVID, Obesity May Mean Worse SymptomsNew Device Might Spot 'Lazy Eye' in Kids EarlierA High-Tech Pointer to Pollutants That Trigger Asthma in KidsFlu Cases Already Up 23% This Season: WalgreensDoctors Report That Kidney Grown in Pig Worked in a HumanHeartburn Meds Might Be Good for Your GumsOne Big Factor for Survival After Spinal Cord Injury: ResilienceDying Young From Heart Disease: Where You Live in the U.S. MattersFDA Expected to Allow Mix n' Match COVID VaccinesPowell's COVID Death Despite Vaccination Shows Danger to Those With Weakened Immune SystemsAHA News: Your Next Doctor's Prescription Might Be to Spend Time in NatureOut-of-Pocket Medical Bills for COVID-19 May Average $3,800 in 2021: StudyLegionnaires' Disease Outbreak Hits Long Island, N.Y.State Lotteries Didn't Help Boost Vaccination RatesFDA Panel Recommends Approval of Johnson & Johnson Booster ShotHeart Defibs in Schools Are Saving Staff Lives: StudyHorseback Riding Carries Big Risk for Serious Injury: StudyTwo-Thirds of Parents of Kids Ages 5-11 Plan to Get Them Vaccinated Against COVID: PollAnother Study Finds Pfizer, Moderna Shots Effective Against COVID VariantsLyme Disease Often Spotted at Later Stage in Black PatientsFDA Panel Supports Moderna Booster Shot for Older Adults, People at High RiskIs a Really Bad Flu Season on the Way?Climate Change Could Bring Rising Obesity RatesKids Can Carry High, Infectious Levels of COVID CoronavirusMore Than Half of COVID-19 Survivors Will Get 'Long COVID'One-Third of Americans With Arthritis Get No ExerciseDeath Threats, Trolling Common for Scientists Who Speak to Media About COVIDAHA News: The Differences and Similarities Between the Flu and COVID-19FDA Questions Strength of Johnson & Johnson's Booster Shot DataHelmets Can Saves Lives in ATV, Dirt Bike CrashesCancer Care Costs U.S. $156 Billion Per Year; Drugs a Major FactorFDA Expert Panel to Weigh Approval of Moderna, Johnson & Johnson Booster ShotsAnti-Nausea Drug May Boost Survival for Some Cancer PatientsExpert Panel Backs Off Recommendation for Aspirin to Prevent Heart TroubleAccess to Top Drugs Makes the Difference for Black Lung Cancer PatientsRisk of COVID from Grocery Store Surfaces Very Low: Study60% of Americans Will Delay or Skip Flu Shot This Year: Survey
Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Men's Health
Women's Health

FDA Panel OKs Pfizer Booster Shot forĀ  People 65 or Older, But Not Younger

HealthDay News
by By Ernie Mundell HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Sep 17th 2021

new article illustration

FRIDAY, Sept. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday recommended a third Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine booster shot for all Americans aged 65 or older, as well as for those deemed to be at high risk for severe illness.

According to The New York Times, that vote came after a near unanimous decision (16 to 2) by the same independent panel of experts that said no to booster shots for Americans younger than 65.

The recommendation against booster shots for younger adults is a setback for the Biden administration, which earlier in the summer had pledged a rollout of boosters to the general population by this coming Monday, Sept. 20.

FDA advisory committee decisions are not binding on the agency, but it usually does follow its advisors' recommendations.

Following an official ruling by the FDA -- expected sometime next week -- the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would meet to outline how any new doses should be used.

According to the Times, Dr. Peter Marks, the official who directs the FDA's vaccine division, had urged panel members to not only focus on severe illnesses when making their decision, but also the power of boosters to perhaps slow infection rates.

The two votes come after a day of intense discussion and presentations from Pfizer, which has pushed hard for third booster shots, as well as officials at the CDC. The agency has conducted studies that suggest that the two doses of Pfizer vaccine that tens of millions of Americans have already received are still keeping recipients safely out of the hospital.

Panel members also heard testimony from Israeli experts. Israel began doling out booster shots to its already well-vaccinated population earlier this summer. The Israeli data appears to suggest that a third shot does give a significant boost to immunity from severe illness.

However, Dr. Sara Oliver of the CDC presented data that current doses are still protecting even the very old from serious COVID-19.

One study published Friday in a CDC journal tracked the vaccination histories of almost 3,700 American adults hospitalized from March through mid-August. It found that those who had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine still maintained 88% protection against being hospitalized with COVID-19.

In the Israeli study, published Sept. 15 in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than one million Israelis aged 60 and older received a booster dose. The study found that they were much less likely to become infected soon after with the contagious Delta variant, achieving what Pfizer called "roughly 95% effectiveness." It is not known how long that protection will last, however.

Another Israeli scientist pointed to data on 1.1 million people over the age of 60 in that country. Crunching the numbers, the data suggests that 12 days after their booster shots, rates of severe disease fell 20-fold among those who had received the third shot, compared to people who had not.

However, many of the FDA committee members seemed skeptical of the Israeli data, suggesting that it wasn't appropriate to compare the relatively small, homogenous country with a nation as populous and diverse as the United States.

Another CDC official, Dr. Amanda Cohn, queried Israeli officials on why the spread of coronavirus infections there had recently intensified, despite a broad rollout of boosters.

And there was another key point of contention: Jonathan Sterne, a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology in the United Kingdom, told panelists that the Israeli data only included a few weeks of follow-up in its older cohort.

Sterne said he had examined data from 76 different studies on the vaccines' effectiveness in the real world. He contended that many disparate factors can alter the study results, including how many unvaccinated people in a study have gained some level of natural immunity from prior COVID-19 infections.

In the end, many committee members worried that a rollout of boosters to the healthy young wasn't yet justified.

"It's unclear that everyone needs to be boosted, other than a subset of the population that clearly would be at high risk for serious disease," said Dr. Michael Kurilla, a committee member and official at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Times reported.

The panel's decision against boosters for people under 65 wasn't entirely surprising. Earlier, two high-ranking FDA scientists co-authored an article in The Lancet journal that said there simply isn't enough solid evidence to back booster shots for the general population. Both scientists are planning to leave the FDA this fall, the Times said.

More information

Find out more about COVID-19 vaccines at the CDC.

SOURCES: The New York Times, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report