The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declined the plan to administer Pfizer booster shots to all eligible Americans.
The decision was made after the vaccine advisory committee on Friday, Sept. 17, voted 16-2 against a proposal saying the Pfizer-made booster shot should be rolled out for those age16 and up six months after their last injection, according to the Financial Times.
However, FDA officials unanimously voted for recommending the third vaccine shot for recipients aged 65 years and above. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risks with COVID-19 tend to increase in older people.
In considering the proposal to have the third COVID-19 vaccine shot be available for the general population, committee members were worried there had not been enough data to ascertain its necessity, the Financial Times noted.
They also pointed to reports of heart inflammation caused by the mRNA vaccines to young recipients in some cases.
Melinda Wharton, a senior official at the CDC and a committee member, opposed the idea. She argued that the younger age group is less likely to contract a breakthrough infection.
Pfizer first called for the booster shots in July, saying that the protection provided by the two rounds of vaccination may wane over time.
However, Federal authorities declined the shots initially but started to switch their attitude last month.
The FDA around mid-August authorized the use of the booster shot to immunocompromised individuals.
The Biden administration on Aug. 18 planned to administer the booster shots to every eligible American on Sept. 20. But, unfortunately, the move came out before either the CDC or FDA resolved to recommend the shots to all age groups.
But subsequent studies caused officials to linger about the decision to roll out the shots to all eligible recipients.
Last Sunday, Sept. 13, scientists from the FDA, together with the World Health Organization, published a report that concluded the shots were “not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic.”
“Current evidence does not, therefore, appear to show a need for boosting in the general population, in which efficacy against severe disease remains high,” the scientists wrote.
The report also pointed to concerns of rare adverse side-effects to emerge in recipients, including heart inflammation and Guillain-Barré syndrome (a form of body paralysis).
“If unnecessary boosting causes significant adverse reactions, there could be implications for vaccine acceptance that go beyond COVID-19 vaccines,” the scientists stated.
The CDC has a meeting next week to discuss distributing the third vaccine shots around the United States.