FDA Authorizes Second COVID-19 Booster For Nearly Anyone Deluged By AARP Junk Mail
With yet another wave of COVID-19 cases hitting Europe and the UK, the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a second booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for all adults over the age of 50. The boosters would be given to people four months after they received their first booster dose of either MRNA vaccine.
We don't yet know whether the US will see a similar wave of new infections from the BA.2 version of the Omicron variant, but it's already responsible for just over half of new infections. And given the virus's tendency to reemerge every damn time people start acting like the threat is over, we're betting this would be a darn good time for folks to go and get re-boosted.
In addition to the authorization for everyone over age 50, the FDA also authorized a second booster shot for people with immune deficiencies: Folks aged 12 and up can get a second booster of the Pfizer vaccine, and those aged 18 and up can get a second booster of the Moderna vaccine.
Before anyone starts getting the additional shots, though, the proposal had to go to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final recommendations on how the boosters should be made available.
For regulatory jargon fans, CNN noted yesterday, before the CDC issued a guidance, that the CDC was
expected to follow with what’s known as a permissive recommendation – a statement that the shots may be used in this age group for those who want them. The agency is not expected to officially recommend the shots, however.
And indeed, that is the kind of guidance CDC issued later yesterday: Adults over 50 and immunocompromised folks who got a booster four months ago are now allowed to get a second booster, but it's not required.
So it's the New World Order, but only if you wanna.
UPDATE: Also too, for folks who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and a booster, the CDC says:
Separately and in addition, based on newly published data, adults who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
One expert CNN consulted, Dr. Megan Ramsey of Brown University's School of Public Health, noted that the new approval may be a bit ahead of any absolute proof that all older Americans would benefit from a second dose right now, but that it allows for vaccinations to ramp up quickly if they're needed:
“I see this approval from the Biden administration as being an insurance policy on their part,” Ranney says. “It’s a way to allow people to get the vaccine or the additional booster. But it also provides them with the flexibility so that should BA.2 be worse than we’re expecting, they can then quickly roll it out. or God forbid, should there be another variant in the next couple of months that requires another booster they can quickly roll it out. So I’m reading it that way,” Ranney said.
CNN points out there's broad scientific agreement that a third vaccine dose significantly protects people from serious illness if they get infected with the coronavirus.
But the science is far from settled on if, or even when, fourth doses might be needed since the vaccines continue to offer a high degree of protection against Covid-19 hospitalization and death, even as protection against illness wanes.
Much of the evidence examining the safety and effectiveness of a second booster shot comes from Israel, which has been recommending a fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine to adults age 18 and older since the end of January.
CNN also reports there are some concerns that, since only about 46 percent of Americans aged 12 and up have gotten a first booster shot, authorizing a second might cause confusion. Seems to us the best solution there would be for anyone who qualifies for a booster to get it already.
Dr. Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston told CNBC that a second booster seems like a good idea since the effectiveness of the first round of booster shots appears to wane over time:
The CDC published a study in February that showed the effectiveness of the third dose against emergency room visits declined from 87% to 66% against emergency room visits, and from 91% to 78% against hospitalization at four months after receiving the shot.
“That gives me pause for concern that the boosters are not necessarily holding up as well as we’d like,” said Hotez, who strongly supports a fourth dose based on Israeli data showing another booster increases protection for people older than 60.
So should you get Booster 2: Electric Boostaloo, when it becomes available? We ain't afraid of no vaccines, so we figure we will, at some point, because even if it's only "moderately" effective at preventing illness altogether, that's still pretty good, and the Israeli data really do show they're effective at preventing serious illness.
That said, Yr Doktor Zoom is not a medical doktor, and we're going mostly from the Post's coverage, which points out the immunity boost from a fourth shot appears to peak after about three weeks, you might decide to hold off until cases in your area are rising. Pfizer and Moderna are both pursuing new formulations of their vaccines that may provide better, longer-term immunity, so that's another thing to consider.
In conclusion, we're sure Fox News will somehow keep finding ways to suggest this is a further loss of freedom, even if it's mostly in anticipation of a wave of BA.2 infections that hasn't quite arrived yet. When Tucker Carlson starts screaming a lot louder about tyranny, that might be the time to go get your additional booster.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.