The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted unanimously Thursday to recommend a booster shot for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The recommendation applies only to Americans aged 65 or older or adults with an increased risk of severe COVID-19 cases, either due to medical conditions or their job setting. The emergency use authorization recommended is for a 50-microgram dose of Moderna’s jab, half the amount of the first two doses needed to reach full vaccination.
BREAKING: Panel of advisers to the FDA endorses Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for seniors and other high-risk groups. The recommendation is non-binding but it’s a key step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign to millions more Americans. https://t.co/cN2Hctv39t
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 14, 2021
Despite the 19-member panel of scientists, doctors and public health experts voting unanimously to recommend authorization, some members expressed doubt about the need for a booster based on the currently available data. “The data are not perfect but these are extraordinary times and we have to work with imperfect data,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, a professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine.
FDA scientists released a report earlier this week and did not endorse or discourage the authorization of boosters, but they too pointed out that Moderna’s vaccine seems to maintain high levels of efficacy over time, potentially reducing the need for boosters. (RELATED: Even Without Vaccines, Kids Are Still Safer From COVID-19 Than Their Vaccinated Grandparents)
The VRBPAC will continue their meeting Friday to discuss the recommendation of Johnson & Johnson’s booster for its one-dose COVID-19 vaccine. The recommendations will then be considered by FDA leadership, who will choose whether or not to grant official emergency use authorization. Then, the question will go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose vaccine panel is scheduled to meet Oct. 21 to discuss booster recommendations.