Last Friday, Sept. 17, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, in part to discuss the matter of Pfizer’s application for administration of a third “booster” dose of its mRNA vaccine for COVID-19. The committee, which is made up of influential individuals outside of the FDA, voted 16-2 against widespread administration of the booster dose, but voted 18-0 to provide the extra doses to people aged 65 or older, and those with special risks for severe illness.
The panel members agreed that health care workers and others with high occupational exposure to the virus should also receive boosters.
The members cited a lack of safety data on extra doses, particularly in younger people. They also questioned the value of mass boosters, but they endorsed the concept of boosters targeted to specific groups.
The FDA previously approved a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for people who are immunocompromised.
Past ACAAI president Jay Portnoy, MD, FACAAI, is a voting member of the panel. During the meeting, he gave an impassioned plea in support of more widespread administration of the booster dose.
The FDA will consider the committee’s advice and make its own decision on the matter, probably within a matter of days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also expected to take up the issue at a meeting later this week. The College will keep you updated on this important issue.