Until last week, a single booster dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations were authorized and available for the over 65s, as well as for individuals in high-risk groups.
Now, this program will be extended to all adults over-18 as a booster dose of both vaccines has now been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The agency has approved the boosters, citing numerous studies showing mild side effects and reactions and strong effectiveness against COVID-19.
The CDC has now made plans to discuss any other clinical recommendations for the rollout of the booster doses for adults in the coming months.
What are the risks and benefits of booster vaccines?
With the news that Pfizer and Moderna boosters have been approved for adults, the US immunization rate is predicted to grow rapidly. At the moment, 195,713,107 of the population are fully vaccinated, which is nearly 60% and this could quickly increase.
But, there are also questions around the requirements for individuals to be eligible for another vaccine, in addition to concerns about the risks and benefits for younger patients.
COVID-19 vaccines have, so far, been highly effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19, and boosers will provide additional protection against the virus.
When it comes to benefits and risks, the FDA has analyzed the data, particularly about the risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) from mRNA vaccines.
The agency noted, “The FDA has determined that the benefits of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines outweigh the risks of myocarditis and pericarditis in individuals age 18 years of age and older when used following completion of primary vaccination to provide continued protection against COVID-19 and the associated serious consequences that can occur including hospitalization and death.”
Side effects from the booster doses are usually mild and include pain or swelling in the injection site, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, headache, fever, and chills. The agency added, however, that swollen lymph nodes are more common with booster doses and people should be aware of this.