FDA Expands Eligibility For COVID-19 Boosters
While mask and COVID-19 vaccination mandates remain an ongoing question mark for a wide range of states, cleaning businesses and frontline workers seeking additional immunity from the virus recently received some clarification on booster eligibility.
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorizations (EUA) for both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines authorizing use of a single booster dose for all individuals 18 years of age and older after completion of primary vaccination with any FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also met last week to discuss further clinical recommendations.
“Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has worked to make timely public health decisions as the pandemic evolves. COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be the best and highly effective defense against COVID-19. Authorizing the use of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older helps to provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death,” says Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.
Prior to today’s authorizations, a single booster dose of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines was authorized for administration to individuals 65 years of age and older, individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19 and individuals 18 through 64 years of age with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Today’s action expands the use of booster doses of both vaccines to include all individuals 18 years of age and older at least six months after completion of the primary vaccination series of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine or at least two months after completion of primary vaccination with the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.
“The FDA has determined that the currently available data support expanding the eligibility of a single booster dose of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to individuals 18 years of age and older,” says Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Streamlining the eligibility criteria and making booster doses available to all individuals 18 years of age and older will also help to eliminate confusion about who may receive a booster dose and ensure booster doses are available to all who may need one.”
Both Pfizer and Moderna are conducting post-authorization/post-marketing studies to assess known serious risks of myocarditis and pericarditis. In addition, the FDA and the CDC have several systems in place to continually monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety and allow for the rapid detection and investigation of potential safety concerns.
The fact sheets for both vaccines for recipients and caregivers and for healthcare providers contain information about the potential side effects, including the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis. The most commonly reported side effects by individuals who received a booster dose of the vaccines were pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, as well as fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain and chills. Of note, swollen lymph nodes in the underarm were observed more frequently following the booster dose than after the primary two-dose series.