An advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday voted to recommend a booster shot of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for many Americans, at least six months after their second dose.
The panel unanimously voted yes on a half-dose shot for people 65 and older, people 18 and older at high risk of severe COVID-19, and people 18 and older whose jobs put them at risk of COVID-19 infection. These are the same groups that became eligible for a Pfizer booster last month.
The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death. Over the summer, as the delta variant took hold in the US, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 surged. Those who are unvaccinated have accounted for nearly all the hospitalizations and deaths -- over 97% as of July.
While the US already is offering a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine to some people, just 2.5% of people living in low-income countries have received at least one vaccine dose.
The vote by the FDA panel isn't binding, but the agency will likely accept the recommendation. The FDA approved the Pfizer booster shot less than a week after an advisory panel made its recommendation.
The FDA already gave emergency authorization for a third dose of the Moderna vaccine for some adults who are immunocompromised.
The panel is meeting again Friday to discuss a booster dose for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.