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FDA Authorizes Second Booster Shot for Americans Over 50

March 29, 2022 by Dan McCue
Vials for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are seen at a temporary clinic in Exeter, N.H., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

WASHINGTON — Bypassing its review panel of independent experts, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a fourth dose of the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccine for people 50 and older.

The authorization for the fourth shot comes as an omicron subvariant, BA.2, has been causing a new wave of infections in Europe and China.

Health officials say BA.2 is also gaining ground in the U.S., and is expected to become the dominant variant here in the coming weeks. 

FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said Tuesday that everyone who has yet to get a first booster shot should get one.

The second booster is only for these higher-risk groups because “current evidence suggests some waning of protection” for them, he said.

BA.2 generally does not make people sicker than the earlier version of omicron, BA.1, and the vaccines have the same level of effectiveness against both types of the variant, according to recent studies that have yet to undergo peer review.

It’s unclear whether the FDA will eventually approve a fourth dose of the vaccine for younger adults, as health experts disagree on whether it is needed or not.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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