The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized Pfizer's COVID booster shots for American adults age 65 and older and other at-risk groups.

The decision from the FDA came following recommendations given Friday by its key vaccine advisory committee at a more than eight-hour agency meeting.

Before unanimously approving the plan to give booster shots to older Americans and those at a high risk group, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee has voted 16-2 against distributing the vaccines to Americans 16 and older.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the group of Americans age 65 and older make up roughly 17 percent of the U.S. population. 

The said group was reported to be the most at risk of dying from COVID. They have already accounted for at least 77 percent of all COVID deaths in the U.S.

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Pfizer Booster Shots Coverage

Aside from the Americans age 65 and older, individuals as young as 18 years old can also get a booster shot from Pfizer if they have a medical condition that places them at risk of severe COVID, ABC News reported.

Individuals, who work for a frontline job that gives them a higher risk of getting infected, were also eligible to get the said booster shots. 

FDA acting commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said that high-risk workers include healthcare workers, grocery workers, teachers and daycare staff, and individuals working in prisons and homeless shelters.

The said demographic approved by the FDA to take the booster shots can get it at least six months after their second dose, USA Today reported.

"We believe boosters have an important role to play in addressing the continued threat of the disease," said Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla.

Currently, only immunocompromised Americans are only eligible for the third dose of Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Pfizer Vaccine Booster Shots Roll

The Pfizer booster shots will not be made available until after a critical CDC committee meets on Thursday. The said committee is expected to decide who should exactly get the booster shots.

CDC needs to decide who qualifies on the "high-risk" demographics and which "frontline workers" are at the highest risk of exposure to the virus.

When the specific designation of eligible booster shot takers is decided, the recommendation for its roll will be recommended by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

Booster Shots for Americans under 65 Years

FDA's decision comes as Americans age below 65 years old were left ineligible for the booster shots. On Friday, an advisory committee for the agency decided that there was not enough data or evidence to show that COVID booster shots for people under 65 years old were necessary.

"We need safety data for younger populations, and we need to really know what the benefit is," Dr. Jeremy Faust said. Faust is an emergency physician from Brigham Women's University and an instructor from Harvard Medical School.

Faust further noted that the approval for older people was due to the reasonable data the agency has. However, "too many questions" still linger when it comes to the younger American population.

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Written by: Joshua Summers

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