FDA Approves Second COVID-19 Booster For Immunocompromised, 50-And-Up | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

FDA Approves Second COVID-19 Booster For Immunocompromised, 50-And-Up

The second Food and Drug Administration-approved booster dose marks the fourth COVID-19 shot in a series of authorizations since the pandemic began. Photo credit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via Unsplash

The second Food and Drug Administration-approved booster dose marks the fourth COVID-19 shot in a series of authorizations since the pandemic began. Photo credit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via Unsplash

At-risk Mississippians over 12 years of age as well as anyone over 50 are now eligible for a second booster dose, thanks to authorization from the Food and Drug Administration today.

The FDA authorization notes that immunocompromised people over the age of 12 are only eligible for a second Pfizer booster, while those 18 and up qualify for Moderna’s booster if they so choose. In either case, a booster may be given only after four months have elapsed since a person’s last vaccine dose.

“Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time against serious outcomes from COVID-19 in older and immunocompromised individuals,” Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Dr. Peter Marks said. “Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals.

“Additionally, the data show that an initial booster dose is critical in helping to protect all adults from the potentially severe outcomes of COVID-19,” Marks said. So, those who have not received their initial booster dose are strongly encouraged to do so.”

Mississippi’s own health leadership echoed this concern for non-boosted residents during a March 25 press briefing with the Mississippi State Medical Association.

“It worries me that we still have a lot of folks who have completed that primary series but haven't yet taken that step to get the booster,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said.

“Even though our death numbers are down now, when we look at our data, still overwhelmingly the largest proportion of deaths are in folks who are unvaccinated,” Byers said.

“But then that next group is the people who've been fully vaccinated, but are overdue for a booster,” he said. “They have passed that time and have never gotten that booster and so we need to make sure that people understand completing your primary series is important, but if it's time for that booster, please get it.”

MSMA Chair Dr. Jennifer Bryan warned that survivorship bias may play a part in residents’ lack of urgency in getting their booster shot.

“Dead people are not very loud, the chronically ill folks on oxygen who are stuck at home are not very loud,” Bryan said. “But there is still a significant amount of folks who have had serious illness or death, and so we can convince ourselves that this is not anything to fool with, and it was all overblown because of the overwhelming silence called survivorship bias.”

Almost one million people have died in the United States to COVID-19, with 12,396 of those deaths in Mississippi so far.

Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at julian@jacksonfreepress.com.

Support our reporting -- Follow the MFP.