Pfizer booster shots get FDA nod; senior and vulnerable Americans eligible

Pfizer booster shots get the US FDA nod for 65 years or older Americans and other vulnerable citizens. However, India needs to expand its vaccination drive before administering booster shots.

The US Food and Drug Administration has amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) to allow a single booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine after six months of the first two jabs for people aged 65 years or more, and other vulnerable American population. This has made many citizens eligible for the shot.

“… the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers and daycare staff, grocery workers, and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

As per the statement, the following section of citizens can administer the booster jab:

  • individuals 65 years of age and older
  • individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe Covid-19
  • individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of severe complications of Covid-19, including severe Covid-19

Around 17% of the American population is aged 65 years or more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they account for almost 77 percent of the Covid deaths. The FDA correctly mentions the jabs for 18 year-olds – 64-year-olds whose “frequent institutional or occupational exposure…”. 

That gives them enough time to administer the third dose to the front-line workers of America, who got their first shot in December.

Data backing Pfizer booster shots approval

The decision to allow booster shots is concurrent to Biden’s announcement of administering the same to the general public by this week. Pfizer submitted its data to approve booster jabs on August 25 for individuals aged 16 years or older.

In the clinical trial conducted, the immune responses of around 200 participants between 18 years and 55 years of age who received a single booster dose after six months of their second dose were studied. When the antibody response was assessed between one month after a booster shot and one month after the double dose of vaccine, the booster shot triumphed.

Additionally, people with recent double vaccination fared better than their older counterparts during the surge in the delta variant. The incidence of Covid-19 was higher in the later ones.

However, people have reported minor side-effects like pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, and chills after receiving booster shots. The safety tests were conducted among 306 patients aged between 18years and 55 years, and 12 patients aged 65 years or older.

Booster shots in India

According to the experts, India does not need booster shots as only a quarter of the adult population has been fully vaccinated to date. The country should first focus on vaccinating its entire population. In America, around 76.7% of adults have received at least the first dose.

Also, the country has no clear idea of the most vulnerable set of the population. Therefore, it is pragmatically not feasible to think about the booster shots. India has administered at least one dosage in about 83.4 crore population.   

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