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FDA to Approve COVID-19 Booster Shots for Vulnerable Americans

About 3 percent of Americans have weakened immune systems

injection with a needle

THURSDAY, Aug. 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans on Thursday to authorize a third "booster" shot of coronavirus vaccine for people with weakened immune systems, as the highly contagious delta variant surges across the country.

Expanding the emergency use of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines should help protect those patients who are considered most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and most likely to benefit from an additional shot. That includes people who have had solid organ transplants and those whose immune systems are compromised, an official familiar with the plan told The New York Times.

Once the booster dose is approved, doctors will be able to recommend additional shots for those patients. About 3 percent of Americans have weakened immune systems for numerous reasons, from a history of cancer to the use of certain medications such as steroids, The Times reported.

Many scientists argue that the immunocompromised population is too diverse to uniformly recommend additional shots of coronavirus vaccine, The Times reported. But studies suggest that patients such as organ transplant recipients often show little immune response to the standard vaccine dosing schedule, and so they could benefit from a third shot. One recent study by Canadian researchers showed that a third dose of the Moderna vaccine improved the immune response of people in that group.

The FDA decision to authorize a third shot for vulnerable Americans will be considered on Friday by an advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although action by the FDA is independent of the committee's recommendation, most doctors wait to act until the CDC weighs in, The Times said. If the CDC committee votes to endorse the shots, the CDC could issue a formal recommendation the same day.

The New York Times Article

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