COVID-19 Booster Shots May be on the Way for Immunocompromised

The FDA is expected to approve the move today, and the CDC could do the same tomorrow. The shots might be available by tomorrow night. Will those over 60 be next to be offered booster shots?

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will be on the table tomorrow when a special committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) meets to rule on the proposal, various news outlets report. The main beneficiaries of such a move would be those with compromised immune systems, such as people who’ve undergone organ transplants. The CDC panel will be acting on a recommendation expected to be handed down today by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Others who are not transplant recipients but who nonetheless have compromised immune systems would also be eligible for the booster shots, according to the New York Times. About 2.7% of adults in the United States are immunocompromised, according to the CDC.

The FDA is expected to decide today on whether to expand the emergency use authorization (EUA) for both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. That decision will then be evaluated by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) tomorrow. That’s expected to be a formality as the committee in July urged the FDA to authorize a third dose of the vaccine for the immunocompromised. The booster shots could become available for immunocompromised adults as soon as tomorrow.

A study in June in the Annals of Internal Medicine makes the case that COVID-19 booster shots would benefit organ transplant patients.

“It is encouraging that antibody titers increased after the third dose in one third of patients who had negative antibody titers and in all patients who had low-positive antibody titers,” the study states. “In addition, the vaccine reactions seem acceptable, given the benefits that these vaccines can confer. Antibody responses, however, appear to vary, and potential risks, such as organ rejection, should be evaluated on an individual basis.”

As Infection Control Today® (ICT®) has reported, booster shots have been on the minds of medical experts lately. “Booster shots are likely coming,” the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center stated recently. “The timeline is unclear, but manufacturers have begun announcing that additional doses could be needed.”

The expected moves by the FDA and the CDC clarifies the timeline a bit more, but booster shots might be on the way for more than just the immunocompromised population.

Kevin Kavanagh, MD, a member of ICT®’s Editorial Advisory Board, recently wrote that people over 60 who’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine 5 or more months prior, should get the booster shot. That’s a point Kavanagh reiterated in a Q&A with ICT® posted yesterday.

“Now presently, we are getting confronted with the delta variant,” says Kavanagh. “And personally, I think that that efficacy is going to fall a bit, especially if you’ve had your vaccine greater than five months out, and you are over the age of 60. Or if you have an immunocompromising condition. And that’s why there’s some talk of boosters. But right now, go out and get vaccinated. It’s extremely important.”