An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration on Friday recommended against approving a booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to most Americans.
The scientific advisory committee voted 16-to-3 against recommending the additional shots, thwarting the Biden administration’s hopes that the FDA would approve the third shot in time to begin rolling out the extra dose for Pfizer recipients next week.
The vote followed a daylong debate in which a number of the panel’s independent experts questioned whether the data justified a broad rollout of an additional shot to most Americans while the vaccines still appear to offer strong protection against severe COVID-19 disease and hospitalization.
“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 G. Kurilla, a committee member and official at the National Institutes of Health.
The decision comes after President Biden announced last month that he planned to make booster shots available to most adults who had received a second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least eight months ago beginning the week of September 20.
While the FDA is not required to follow the committee’s recommendations, it typically does. The agency is expected to make a decision regarding the Pfizer booster shots by early next week.
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