St. Louis Fire Capt. Frank Florence receives his COVID-19 booster shot from nurse Marissa Green, at South City Hospital in St. Louis on November 2. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 19 (UPI) -- A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel on Friday recommended emergency use authorization for Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for all individuals ages 18 and over.
The recommendation came hours after the Food and Drug Administration authorized both boosters. The measure must still be signed off on by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky before the boosters can be administered.
"As a clinician deep in the clinical trenches, I am really glad that we have clarity and streamlining of the recommendation so that all Americans can understand the vaccines that are recommended for them at this time," said Dr. Camille Kotton, a member of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
The booster dose should be administered at least six months after completion of any primary series COVID-19 vaccination, officials said.
Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement that the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.
"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."
Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said the booster shots will allow adults to maintain a high level of protection against the virus and its various strains.
"Today's FDA decision is supported by clinical data showing robust immune responses following a booster dose of our vaccine, exceeding what has been seen even after the completion of the highly effective two-dose primary schedule," Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, said in a statement. "These data suggest a booster dose of our vaccine has the potential to maintain a high level of protection against tested variants, including Delta."
"This emergency use authorization comes at a critical time as we enter the winter months and face increasing COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations across the country," Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, added in a statement.
Boosters are currently only available for the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and those who are in at-risk positions such as hospital employees.
If approved by regulators, most U.S. adults would be able to receive a booster dose immediately.
"The thing boosters might help with is to help dampen the surge or increase we're going to see this winter," said Ted Ross, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Georgia, according to USA Today. "That peak or that slope will hopefully not be as steep."
There are still concerns about adolescents and young men developing rare but relatively high rates of myocarditis, a swelling of the heart muscle, within a week or two of vaccination.
Myocarditis has been mild and short-lived when it follows vaccination, experts said, but may cause decision-makers to limit boosters to that group.