FDA green lights second booster of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna COVID-19 shot

The booster shots are intended to offer more protection against severe disease and hospitalization.

The US Food and Drug Administration approved a second booster dosage of the two most commonly used COVID-19 vaccinations for persons 50 and older on Tuesday, citing data demonstrating waning immunity and the risks posed by Omicron variants of the virus. The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines' new boosters, which constitute a fourth round of shots for most vaccine recipients, must be given at least four months after the last dosage. They are designed to provide greater protection against serious illness and hospitalization. The FDA also approved a second booster dose of the vaccines for persons with impaired immune systems who are younger than 12 years old for the Pfizer/BioNTech shot and 18 years old and over for the Moderna shot.

The approval comes as some scientists express alarm about the highly contagious and newly prevalent BA.2 Omicron subvariant, which has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases in other nations. "If it were my relatives, I would be sending them out to do this," top FDA official Dr. Peter Marks said during a news conference of getting booster shots. "COVID-19 has had a really disproportional adverse effect on people 65 years of age and older and those with comorbidities." COVID cases in the United States have declined substantially since a record high in January, but there has been a little increase in the last week. Marks said the FDA will assess the merits of approving another wave of boosters for a broader group designed to tackle new variants of concern.