Pfizer Asks for Authorization for Boosters for Adult Recipients

An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration voted against a similar request from Pfizer in mid-September, but the agency is considered likely to grant the request, perhaps before Thanksgiving.,

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Pfizer and BioNTech ask federal regulators to authorize their boosters for all adult recipients of their vaccine.

Preparing Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at a mobile vaccine clinic in McMinnville, Ore., last month.Credit…Alisha Jucevic for The New York Times

Nov. 9, 2021Updated 2:53 p.m. ET

Pfizer and BioNTech asked federal regulators on Tuesday to expand authorization of their coronavirus booster shot to include all adults, a move could significantly expand the number of recipients of that vaccine who are eligible for booster shots.

The Food and Drug Administration is considered likely to grant the request, perhaps before Thanksgiving. The federal government has been intent on broadening the categories of people eligible for additional injections since the first booster shots were authorized for emergency use in late September.

An advisory board of outside experts to the Food and Drug Administration voted against a similar request from Pfizer in mid-September. Instead, the committee recommended booster shots on an emergency basis for those 65 and older or at high risk of Covid-19 because of their medical conditions or jobs.

Those categories were still broad enough to cover at least 60 percent of the population. And some experts have argued that the case for booster shots for the general population is stronger now, citing reasons ranging from more data from Israel to requests from some health practitioners to simplify the eligibility categories.

The F.D.A. has the authority to modify the emergency use authorization and is not expected to reconvene the expert panel. The committee’s recommendations are not binding but are typically followed. Pfizer’s plan to file a new request was reported earlier by The Washington Post.

President Biden said in August that he wanted all adults to be eligible for booster shots because of concerns that the vaccines’ protection against infection wanes over time. The administration was aiming to roll out boosters by the third week of September but was forced to delay after regulators said they needed more time to analyze the data.

At this point, adult recipients of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are eligible for a third shot six months after their second injection if they are at least 65 years old or considered at special risk.

All Johnson & Johnson recipients are eligible for a second shot as a booster. And adult recipients of all three brands for their initial shots are allowed to pick which brand they would prefer as a booster shot. Nearly 25 million people have received additional shots so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including those who are eligible because of immune deficiencies.

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