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Booster for At-Risk

This post has been updated to clarify that the age range for a booster is 65 and older.

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for older or at-risk individuals, the New York Times reports.

Pfizer and BioNTech had sought a wider authorization for a booster that encompassed all adults, and the Biden Administration further announced in August that adults who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine could be eligible for a booster beginning about now. That plan, though, drew criticism from the World Health Organization, which the focus should be on providing initial vaccines doses to populations around the world, as well as from inside FDA. An FDA advisory committee then recommended an extra dose for people 65 or older and those at high risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, such as healthcare workers.

Following on that, the agency has now authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for older or at-risk adults six months after their initial shots, the Times says, noting that about 22 million Americans had their second Pfizer-BioNTech shot six or more months ago and that about half are 65 or older.

The paper further says FDA appears to be taking a broad interpretation of "at-risk," as acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said the authorization would allow booster doses for not only healthcare workers, but also teachers and grocers as well as people in homeless shelters or prisons. It adds in a separate article, though, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will determine who qualifies.

The Verge notes there are no new guidelines for the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

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