RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – After an overwhelming vote against COVID-19 boosters for the general public, an FDA panel, voted in favor for boosters in people 65 or older and those deemed to be at high risk like healthcare workers, teachers and essential infrastructure workers.
A second FDA panel will now finalize the wording of the authorization and the CDC will then make their recommendation.
The initial vote would have allowed boosters for everyone to start as soon as Monday.
Before voting, some members of this advisory group voiced concerns over a lack of data supporting boosters for everyone 16 and older. The data showed protection waned over time but Pfizer wasn’t able to show it decreased enough to stop protecting against severe illness.
Immediately following vaccination, Pfizer said its vaccine was 96.2 percent effective. They said they dropped to 83.7 percent after six months.
Pfizer leaned heavily on data from Israel where the general public is now getting boosters. Some members of this group said there were too many factors that made the U.S. and Israel different. They wanted more U.S.-based data to address the need.
Voters also wanted studies looking at alternatives to a six-month time frame while at least one panel member asked why we didn’t have a Delta variant-specific dose.
Many in the group said they’d be more comfortable with boosters for more at-risk people like seniors or healthcare workers.
Monday was the White House’s goal for rolling out boosters for the general public. This vote now changes that booster roll out plan.
“We always said that this initial plan was contingent on the FDA and CDC’s independent evaluation. We will follow that evaluation and their recommendation. We will make sure our final plan reflects it,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told reporters Friday.
This vote does not impact people who got the Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Moderna published data this week they said boosters for people who got their vaccine. They plan to submit for authorization soon. Johnson and Johnson plans to apply by the end of the year.