FDA plans to authorize Pfizer vaccine booster shots for all adults

Some states have already begun encouraging adults to get the third shot

Updated: November 17, 2021 - 8:01am

The FDA is looking to authorize booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for all adults as early as Thursday.

The CDC's independent committee of vaccine experts has scheduled a meeting for Friday, during which the panel will discuss the safety and efficacy of the booster. If both agencies sign off on the shots, any adult who received a second dose of the vaccine at least six months prior would become eligible for a booster as soon as this weekend.

Some states, ahead of the expected authorization, have begun encouraging adults who want a booster to seek out one. More than 30 million people have already received a third shot. The daily figure of boosters given often outpaces that of first shots given. 

The Biden administration initially attempted to roll out a booster campaign in September, but public health experts cautioned that regulators needed more time before deciding whether the vaccine data supported the broad program. 

"I think we need to show why a booster dose is clearly of benefit to 18-29 year-olds, because if it's not clearly of benefit, we have to consider the fact that myocarditis was a second dose phenomenon and may also be a third dose phenomenon. Do the benefits clearly and definitively outweigh risks for 18-29 year old?" said FDA vaccine advisory committee member Dr. Paul Offit.

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, which was an observed side effect of the vaccine especially in young men receiving their second shot.