A second Covid booster shot has been approved for adults over the age of 50 (Picture: Getty Images)
A second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for adults ages 50 and older has received the stamp of approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
People are eligible to receive the additional dose at least four months after receiving their first booster, the FDA said in a statement Tuesday.
A single booster dose for immunocompromised individuals following three doses was already authorized by the agency. The move will make a second booster available to other high risk populations.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is expected to sign off on the additional shot. The CDC already recommends immunocompromised Americans receive a fourth dose.
Fewer than 50 percent of Americans who are eligible for their first booster have received one, according to data from the CDC. Despite the apparent hesitancy for many in the US to receive a single booster, people in other countries, such as Chile and Sweden, have already begun receiving a second booster dose.
The authorization comes as federal health officials look to combat the extremely contagious Omicron subvariant, BA.2, which the CDC said Tuesday has now become the dominant strain of the virus in the US.
The subvariant now accounts for about 55 percent of the new coronavirus cases in the country, according to the CDC, and has been fast to spread throughout Europe and other parts of the world.
Both Pfizer and Moderna asked the FDA earlier this month to approve a second booster, arguing that research shows protection from the initial booster wanes after a few months.
Pfizer had requested the second booster to be approved for adults 65 and older, while Moderna made the request for all adults.
A study conducted by the CDC found the effectiveness of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines against hospitalizations decreased from 91 percent two months after the first booster shot to 78 percent after four months. The study took place over December and January, when the Omicron variant was spreading throughout the country.
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