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Health officials concern on unvaccinated rather than booster shots

Published: Sep. 19, 2021 at 4:26 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2021 at 6:34 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/CNN) - The Biden administration wanted to start administering booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week, but the FDA said not so fast.

Health officials say their primary concern right now is getting people in for their first and second shots, not their third.

Vaccine advisers to the FDA have voted to recommend emergency use authorization of booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for people 65 and older and those at high risk of severe COVID-19, six months after they received their first shots.

However, they have not approved booster doses of the vaccine for everyone 16 and older, citing a lack of data about the safety and efficacy of a third dose.

“They did make a more conservative decision than I anticipated, but this is an example of science being out there and good-hearted, well-intentioned smart people debating how to turn that science into public policy,” Dr. William Schaffner of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University said.

The CDC makes the final decision on the shots. The agency meets with its vaccine advisers next week.

But booster shots aren’t the key to turning the pandemic around, according to officials and health experts.

“What is going to be the change in the arc of this pandemic by giving a third dose to people who are already vaccinated as compared to giving two doses to people unvaccinated,” Dr. Paul Offit, director of Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said.

In the meantime, COVID-19 cases are still overwhelming many hospitals nationwide.

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