WASHINGTON | US health officials on Friday authorized a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for all adults fully vaccinated at least six months ago.
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The United States Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated that this emergency use authorization is helping to “provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization or death.”
“This emergency use authorization comes at a critical time as we enter the winter months and face an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country,” said Moderna chief Stéphane Bancel. .
People over the age of 18 who received the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine in the United States were already entitled to a second dose, two months after the injection.
For people vaccinated with Pfizer and Moderna, the third dose was previously reserved only for certain categories of the population: those over 65, adults at risk of developing a severe form of the disease, or those at high risk of contracting the virus due for example from his work.
Highly recommended over 50 years
An advisory committee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) met at noon on Friday to discuss the blanket recall and streamlined its recommendations.
The experts of this committee considered that for people immunized with a messenger RNA vaccine, people over 50 years “should” receive a booster, and that those between 18 and 50 “could” receive a booster if they so desired.
The experts considered that the expected benefits in terms of protection and a slower transmission of the disease as the year-end holidays approach justify this decision.
Some even thought that it was possible that these vaccines could be considered three-dose vaccines early on in the future.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has not yet officially signed these recommendations.
The United States authorizes from the end of October the “mixtures” of vaccines for the booster dose. Therefore, Americans can choose a different vaccine from their initial series for this new injection.
At least 31 million people have already received a booster dose in the United States, of which about half (17 million) are 65 or older.
In practice, the vast majority of people vaccinated with Pfizer or Moderna kept the same vaccine for the third dose, while the majority of people who received a first dose of “J&J” switched to their booster dose.
According to a CDC presentation, side effects after a third dose were somewhat less common than after the second dose.
85,000 daily cases
This announcement comes amid a resumption of the epidemic in the United States, with an average of 85,000 new COVID-19 cases daily (compared to about 70,000 at the end of October) and about 1,000 deaths per day.
Some US states, including California, had already begun allowing booster doses for all adults, even before health agency recommendations, in hopes of containing the spread of the epidemic before the holidays.
In October, Pfizer reported the results of a clinical trial involving 10,000 people showing that a booster dose of the vaccine was 95.6% effective against symptomatic forms of the disease.
Moderna’s efficacy results are still pending, but one study showed that a booster dose increased antibody levels.
For Pfizer-BioNTech, the booster dose is the same (30 micrograms), while for Moderna, the booster is actually half a dose (50 micrograms vs 100 for the initial two injections).
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