NATIONAL NEWS

FDA backs Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for seniors, high-risk

Sep 22, 2021, 4:56 PM
A doze of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)...
A doze of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The U.S. moved a step closer Wednesday to offering booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to senior citizens and others at high risk from the virus as the Food and Drug Administration signed off on the targeted use of the extra shots.

The FDA authorized booster doses for Americans who are 65 and older, younger people with underlying health conditions and those in jobs that put them at high-risk for COVID-19. The ruling represents a drastically scaled back version of the Biden administration’s sweeping plan to give third doses to nearly all American adults to shore up their protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

However, more regulatory hurdles lie ahead before the dispensing of boosters can begin.

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opened a two-day meeting Wednesday to make their own, more specific recommendations about who should get the extra shots and when. And in their first day of discussions, some experts were so perplexed by the questions surrounding the rationale for boosters that they suggested putting off a decision for a month in hopes of more evidence.

The uncertainties were yet another reminder that the science surrounding boosters is more complicated than the Biden administration suggested when the president and his top aides rolled out their plan at the White House last month.

The FDA decision Wednesday was expected after the agency’s own panel of advisers last week overwhelmingly rejected the Biden plan. The panel instead recommended boosters only for those most vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19.

The timing of the FDA decision was highly unusual given that the agency typically takes action before the CDC convenes its own experts.

The CDC panelists heard a series of presentations Wednesday outlining the knotty state of science on boosters. On one hand, the COVID-19 vaccines continue to offer strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death. On the other hand, there are signs of more low-grade infections among the vaccinated as immunity wanes.

Ultimately the committee must decide who is considered at high enough risk for an extra dose. Data provided by Pfizer and the Israeli government suggests a strong case for boosters in people 65 and older, but there is less evidence that extra shots provide much benefit for younger people with underlying health conditions.

Several CDC advisers agreed boosters are also important for keeping health care workers on the job.

“We don’t have enough health care workers to take care of the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Helen Talbot of Vanderbilt University. “They just keep coming.”

The CDC has already said it is considering boosters for older people, nursing home residents and front-line health care workers, rather than all adults.

The World Health Organization and other global health advocates are opposed to wealthy nations dispensing a third round of shots when poor countries don’t have enough vaccine for their first doses. And many independent scientists say that the vaccines continue to perform well against the worst effects of COVID-19 and that their ability to curb the overall trajectory of the epidemic is uncertain.

U.S. regulators will decide at a later date on boosters for people who have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. If Pfizer boosters are authorized this week, U.S. regulators indicated the shots would not be recommended for people who got a different brand of vaccine initially.

The across-the-board rollout of boosters proposed by the White House was supposed to have begun this week. Some questioned whether President Joe Biden had gotten ahead of the science by announcing his plans before government regulators had reached any conclusions.

Despite the resistance in recent days, some top U.S. health officials said they expect boosters to eventually win broader approval in the coming weeks or months. Dr. Anthony Fauci said over the weekend that “this is not the end of the story.”

Other administration officials noted that the FDA decision covers tens of millions of Americans and that seniors and other high-risk groups would have been the first to get boosters even if extra shots had been authorized for the entire population. Seniors were in the first group of Americans eligible for vaccination last December.

The U.S. has already authorized third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients. Other Americans, healthy or not, have managed to get boosters, in some cases simply by asking.

The U.S. is dispensing around 760,000 vaccinations per day on average, down from a high of 3.4 million a day in mid-April. About 180 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or 64% of those who are eligible.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

National News

Associated Press

Average US price of gas spikes 13 cents per gallon to $3.44

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline spiked 13 cents over the past two weeks, to $3.44 per gallon. The price at the pump is $1.22 higher than a year ago. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday the rise comes as the cost of crude oil surges. […]
1 day ago
A car makes a big splash driving over a puddle on Third Street in San Rafael, Calif. on Thursday, O...
Associated Press

Forecasters: California storm could bring ‘historic’ rain

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A powerful storm roared ashore Sunday in Northern California, flooding highways, toppling trees and causing mud flows in areas burned bare by recent fires as forecasters predict record-breaking rainfall. Drenching rain and strong winds accompanied the arrival of an atmospheric river — a long and wide plume of moisture pulled in […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Jay Black, singer for Jay and the Americans, dies at 82

NEW YORK (AP) — Jay Black, front man for the 1960s rock band Jay and the Americans, who crooned the soaring vocals to hits like “This Magic Moment,” “Cara Mia” and “Come a Little Bit Closer,” has died. He was 82. The band announced the death of Black, born David Blatt, in a statement Saturday. […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021 file photo, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual ...
Associated Press

Orthodox patriarch hospitalized at start of 12-day US visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The spiritual leader of the world’s 200 million Eastern Orthodox Christians was hospitalized Sunday in Washington on the first full day of a planned 12-day U.S. visit, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said. The archdiocese said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was preparing to leave for a service at the Cathedral of Saint […]
1 day ago
A U.S. Marine with the Golf Company, 1st Marines presents Jim McCollum with a folded American flag ...
Associated Press

A Wyoming farewell for Marine killed in Afghanistan bombing

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Dozens of U.S. fellow Marines joined hundreds of Wyoming residents to bid a final farewell at a memorial for Rylee McCollum, one of 13 U.S. servicemen killed in a suicide bombing as they guarded a gate at a chaotic Kabul, Afghanistan airport during the final U.S. evacuation from that country. Many […]
1 day ago
A buyer places a bid during an auction of Pablo Picasso's master works at the Bellagio hotel and ca...
Associated Press

Picasso artworks auctioned for combined $109M in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Eleven Pablo Picasso artworks have been sold for a combined $109 million in a Las Vegas auction coinciding with the artist’s 140th birthday. The nine paintings and two ceramic pieces had been displayed inside the Picasso restaurant at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art for more than two decades until owner […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
FDA backs Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for seniors, high-risk