Pfizer asks permission for second booster shot for older Americans

But since Israel only recently began its second booster program, researchers were unable to determine whether the added protection was short-lived. Israel began offering fourth doses to health professionals in late December, then quickly expanded eligibility for those 60 and older and other vulnerable groups.


March 15, 2022, 9:06 PM ET

The second study, among Israeli health professionals, found that although the fourth injection of the vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna increased antibody levels, they were not very effective at preventing infection. Researchers said these findings underscored the urgency of developing vaccines that target every variant circulating.

The National Institutes of Health in the United States and several vaccine manufacturers have been investigating how to update the vaccines. A federal health official said the results were not expected until the summer.

Some senior government officials say that, depending on the evidence, a second booster may now make sense for older Americans, but not the general population. The FDA is expected to convene a meeting of its expert advisory committee next month to discuss the issue of the fourth shots. The developments at Pfizer’s request were previously reported by The Washington Post.

When asked last month if anyone would need another shot, Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s chief vaccine regulator, said: “Besides any surprises from new variants, it might be best to think about our booster strategy in conjunction with the flu vaccine next fall, and then boost as many people as possible.” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser, has suggested that any move toward a second booster would now most likely target those most at risk, possibly based on age and underlying conditions.

To date, about two-thirds of Americans ages 5 and older have been fully vaccinated with two injections of a vaccine. Only about half of those eligible for boosters have received them, but the proportion rises to two-thirds for those over 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, senior administration officials said the administration was underfunded for new doses. The government has enough stock to arrange a fourth shot for people over 65, one said, but couldn’t extend that effort to everyone without more funding from Congress.

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