October 21 (Reuters) – A panel of advisers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unanimously recommended the use of COVID-19 vaccine boosters on Thursday for many beneficiaries of Moderna Inc (MRNA .O) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), a vote that should pave the way for extra doses for millions of Americans.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the booster doses on Wednesday and said Americans can choose a different injection than their original inoculation.
The CDC is expected to approve the panel’s recommendations in the coming days, and boosters may be available immediately after. Still, health officials and public health experts have said the deployment of the booster could be confusing.
“I hope, certainly by the end of this day, that we will have a little more consistency. But I think it will remain quite complicated, ”said Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and non-voting member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
ACIP voted to recommend booster doses for all people 18 years of age and older who received a first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months earlier.
For those who received their second dose of Moderna vaccine at least six months earlier, ACIP has recommended a third injection for people 65 years of age and older, as well as some at risk or seriously ill and those at risk. exposure to the virus in the course of their work. .
The FDA and CDC have previously approved booster injections of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and partner BioNTech SE for the same groups included in the Moderna recommendations.
Some scientists have suggested that boosters are needed to keep immunity high, especially since the extremely contagious Delta variant of the virus can cause breakthrough infections in some who are fully vaccinated.
About 11.6 million people have so far received a booster dose, according to CDC data.
The FDA and CDC have come under pressure to allow the additional shots after the White House announced plans in August for a massive recall campaign.
Other countries like Israel have started offering boosters to a large population, but it is not yet known whether the United States will follow suit.
Pfizer released data Thursday suggesting that a booster dose was highly protective for people 16 years of age and older compared to protection several months after receiving the two-dose regimen due to decreased efficacy over time. time.
Reporting by Manas Mishra and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Bill Berkrot
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