OHA releases statement on FDA booster dose recommendation

Today, officials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) convened medical experts to discuss whether to recommend that people who’ve previously been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine should receive a booster shot to help maintain the effectiveness of their vaccinations over time.

At today’s hearing, the committee recommended that people age 65 and older and those considered at high risk of severe COVID-19 receive a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after the second dose. The FDA is reviewing this recommendation to determine whether to add this use to the Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine.

Booster doses have not been recommended for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. It is expected that federal officials will consider booster doses for people who’ve received these vaccines in coming weeks.

The recommendations that came from today’s meeting are just the first steps in the process. No boosters will be available to Oregonians until the remaining steps in the process are completed next week. Here’s what’s next:

  • The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will review the FDA’s recommendation Sept. 22-23. The CDC Director then considers the ACIP recommendation and makes any official CDC recommendation for use of boosters. It is anticipated that ACIP will provide additional guidance on who is considered at high risk of severe COVID-19.
  • After FDA and CDC decisions, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup meets on Sept. 24 to consider federal recommendations for implementation in California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Once Western States issues a recommendation, the Oregon Health Authority will support implementation.

Booster doses are expected to be widely available through pharmacies, doctor’s offices and clinics, as COVID-19 vaccine is today.

For older adults and others who live in skilled nursing facilities, their residences are equipped to provide booster doses once they are fully authorized.

Medical evidence shows that the COVID-19 vaccines remain highly effective in preventing COVID-19 associated hospitalizations and deaths.  The boosters were recommended because there was some evidence to show that the immune response the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine produces to protect against COVID-19 disease could begin to wane many months after a person was first immunized, especially in older adults. As with other vaccines, a booster shot will strengthen the body’s ability to prevent disease from the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Today’s federal review underscores the consistently rigorous scientific scrutiny that medical experts and health officials have used to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Health Officer and State Epidemiologist. “While we wait for today’s recommendations to be reviewed by the next panel of medical experts, we want to urge every Oregonian who hasn’t been vaccinated to get immunized against COVID-19 today. Oregon has enough vaccine in place to vaccinate people who are unvaccinated and we’re ready to provide boosters when federal and Western States officials finalize their recommendations.”