AdventHealth giving workers COVID boosters as FDA panel rejects them for the general public

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Food and Drug Administration Advisory panel debated for hours Friday whether to allow COVID-19 booster shots for people 16 years of age and older.

The panel specifically reviewed data from Pfizer and overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to allow boosters six months after a second dose of the vaccine.

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The advisors cited a need for more data on the safety of extra doses for younger people as the reason for their reluctance, calling into question the value of blanket boosters rather than boosters for specific age segments.

“I’d like to see more data before I recommend it to a  younger age group,” one panelist said. “It’s likely in my opinion beneficial for the elderly.”

With a second vote, the panel unanimously agreed to allow Pfizer booster shots for people age 65 or older or who are at high-risk of severe COVID-19 infection, regardless of age.

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Panelists argued first responders, healthcare workers, and others who are constantly exposed to the virus should also be considered to be high-risk

“We don’t have a lot of capacity, and we can’t be losing people in hospitals that will put them out for 10 days,” one member of the panel said.

Days before the FDA panel’s meeting, employees at AdventHealth were already receiving third vaccine doses

“We have a lot of current colleagues who had breakthrough infections,” an AdventHealth spokesperson said. “I think, again, that we need to keep antibodies at a certain level to prevent breakthrough infection.”

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Research suggests that immunity does wane over time, and boosters can help reverse that. However, scientists say having the Pfizer vaccine, even with decreased immunity, is still highly effective against severe illness and death.

When asked why the hospital offered booster shots without the official approval from the FDA or CDC, AdventHealth officials did not provide a response.

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