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FDA panel votes to recommend 3rd shot for some Pfizer vaccine recipients

An advisory committee says Pfizer recipients who are at risk for severe COVID-19, including people age 65 and older, should get a third shot.

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During a day-long meeting Friday, an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration voted against recommending a booster dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for everyone age 16 and older who received the two-dose regimen. 

However, in a subsequent vote, the committee voted that adults age 65 and older and people at risk of severe COVID-19 should get an extra dose because the known benefits outweigh the known and unknown risks. 

The committee voted 16-2 against a third dose for the general public following Pfizer's two-dose regimen. Members who voted "no" cited a lack of evidence that the benefits of a third dose for most people would outweigh the unknown risks of another shot. Some committee members pointed out the risk of myocarditis, a rare side effect which is mostly seen in younger men. 

The Biden administration had hoped the booster plan for Pfizer recipients would begin as early as Sept. 20, but that depended on approval from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vote by the FDA panel isn't binding, but the agency will likely accept the recommendation and make a decision by early next week, The New York Times reported. When the FDA does make it official, it's possible the booster recommendation will extend to health care workers, teachers or other people whose jobs put them at risk of COVID-19 infection, or those who have "occupational exposure," per the advisory committee.

The FDA fully approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine last month and has already signed off on an extra shot for some immunocompromised people, including solid organ transplant recipients and people receiving treatment for cancers of the blood. 

Friday's meeting by the FDA's advisory committee comes a few weeks after it was announced that two FDA regulators will step down this fall, reportedly because they're in disagreement with the US plan to get adults a COVID-19 booster eight months after their second shot.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.