HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – An advisory panel for the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) rejected a plan to offer widespread COVID-19 booster shots Friday, and now many are asking why.
Within their statement, the FDA advisory panel only recommended the approval of the shot – for emergency situations – for residents over the age of 65 and for those at severe infection risk. The approval is pending a vote by the CDC and their Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
“They are doing additional vetting of the populations that need to be addressed first. So, yes, 65 and older is the priority, but there are also going to be some additional populations within that, that could qualify for a booster dose even if they’re not 65 and older,” says Hannah Petracca, the PIO for the Cabell Huntington Health Department.
The Cabell Huntington Health Department says they were “anticipating this recommendation” from the FDA and that “…as soon as the final approval is given, [they] are ready to begin administering that same day.”
They say they are encouraging residents in the Mountain State to do their research on the shot to solve any confusion.
“I understand completely that there is a lot of information going around and just that unknown can cause a lot of fear. But we want to provide reassurance that this booster dose has been well vetted – that’s why it hasn’t been fully approved yet. It’s making sure that the right channels have vetted this process and that it’s safe. So, for anyone that is on the fence and that is concerned, continue to await for that final approval and continue to do your own research – and talk to your primary care doctor – to ensure that booster dose is right for them,” says Petracca.
The Pfizer Vaccine has just been approved for those aged 5 and older.
“We’re eager to administer the vaccine to anyone that is eligible. Upon this new information, as soon as we receive the additional guidelines on what it means to administer to this new aged population, we will begin doing so immediately,” Petracca says.
I got an “additional dose.” Do I need the booster shot?
“An additional dose is a dose described to give someone that did not have the same immune response to the first two doses because their immune system was not strong enough to have that same response as a normal/healthy person. A booster dose is given to someone who had the correct response, but the efficacy of the immune response has gone down over time. So, the additional dose has nothing to do with time, just has to do with the immune capacity of an individual; whereas the booster shot has to deal with the efficacy over time,” explains Petracca.
Do I have to wait to get an “additional dose” like I would the booster shot?
Petracca says the Health Department has been “…getting additional doses for those who are immunocompromised and may not have had the full immune response to their first two doses of – say – Pfizer and Moderna. So, if someone were to fall in that immunocompromised population, [the Health Department] is ready to give them that additional dose now. They can [go] to any of the vaccination sites and get their additional dose, as long as they fall into that immune-compromised eligibility list.”