Booster shots are now available for those aged 65 and older, as well as high risk groups and those with occupational exposure to COVID-19. Photo courtesy Mat Napo on Unsplash
COVID-19 booster shots are now approved for all Mississipians aged 65 and older, as well as for those immunocompromised or otherwise at-risk of severe infection. For those looking to get the booster, eligibility begins eight months after receiving their second Pfizer shot. In a press statement given yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration detailed the decision to approve the booster.
“Today’s action demonstrates that science and the currently available data continue to guide the FDA’s decision-making for COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said.
The FDA approval extends to others from ages 18 to 64 for those who are at high risk of severe complications or for those whose jobs involve “occupational exposure” to COVID-19.
“After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health-care workers, teachers and day-care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” Woodcock said.
The approval comes after a Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee hearing on Sept. 17, soliciting comments and input from both the general public as well as health officials. Expert attendees included domestic officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as outside health officials and experts from Israel and the United Kingdom.
“This pandemic is dynamic and evolving, with new data about vaccine safety and effectiveness becoming available every day,” Woodcock said. “As we learn more about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, including the use of a booster dose, we will continue to evaluate the rapidly changing science and keep the public informed.”
“We’re grateful for the advice of the doctors, scientists, and leading vaccine experts on our advisory committee and the important role they have played in ensuring transparent discussions about COVID-19 vaccines. We appreciate the robust discussion, including the vote regarding individuals over 65 years of age and individuals at high risk for severe disease, as well as the committee’s views regarding the use of a booster dose for those with institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said.
“The FDA considered the committee’s input and conducted its own thorough review of the submitted data to reach today’s decision,” he added. “We will continue to analyze data submitted to the FDA pertaining to the use of booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines and we will make further decisions as appropriate based on the data.”
Booster shots are available across Mississippi. In a Sept. 21 statement via Twitter, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs encouraged a booster plan for those eligible for the third shot.
“65 and older? Chronic medical diagnosis? Make your COVID booster plan,” Dobbs advised.
Dobbs reported a breakdown of booster shots given so far according to the type of facility utilized. Mississippi pharmacies gave 44% of the third shots, while clinics administered 39%, MSDH 9%, and hospitals 8%, respectively. Booster shot scheduling is available here.
Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].