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Most People Under 50 Don’t Need 4th Shot Yet, CDC Panel Suggests

April 20, 2022, 9:52 PM

Most Americans under 50 should wait for the next generation of booster shots rather than getting a fourth dose now to prevent Covid-19 infections, according to several members of a panel of advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The goal of booster shots should be to limit severe outcomes rather than to prevent transmission of the virus, the advisers said in a meeting Wednesday. That means people with high risk of grave illness from an infection should consider an extra shot, but most people should hold out for better vaccines later this year, they said.

The current booster shots made by Moderna Inc. and the partnership of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE offer limited protection against newer strains such as the BA.2 subvariant, members of the CDC advisory panel said.

“With the vaccines currently available, we should not chase the rainbows of hoping that those vaccines could prevent infection,” said Sarah Long, a professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine. “We don’t have the vaccines to do more, except to prevent severe disease and death.”

The panel’s discussion echoed remarks made by a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel earlier this month. Federal health officials have been seeking advice on how to make the booster campaign more sustainable than the current practice of getting additional shots every several months.

As of April 19, second booster shots had been given to around 1.1 million U.S. adults ages 50 to 64, and 3.2 million people age 65 and older. Uptake declines with every additional shot recommended, according to data reviewed by the CDC panel.

The agency on Wednesday proposed considerations that might make someone eligible for an extra shot: underlying health conditions, people who live with someone at increased risk for severe disease, or those who are more likely to be exposed to Covid because of their job. On the flip side, some panel members questioned whether people who had breakthrough Covid cases needed a second booster at all.

The debate comes at a time when states and companies have cut back most anti-pandemic measures, most recently masking on public transport. The FDA anticipates holding another meeting this summer to discuss possible boosters for the fall or winter to head off an anticipated winter wave of infections.

“We should be thinking about how to make a better vaccine, said Lynn Bahta, a vaccine consultant for the Minnesota Department of Health. “I hope that we’re not going to settle to making recommendations or changing the guidance” every couple of months.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Fiona Rutherford in New York at frutherford@bloomberg.net;
Celine Castronuovo in Arlington at ccastronuovo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Cynthia Koons at ckoons@bloomberg.net

Catherine Larkin, Crayton Harrison

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.