US expands COVID boosters to all adults, final hurdle ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators on Friday opened up COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, expanding the government’s campaign to shore up protection and get ahead of rising coronavirus cases that may worsen with the holidays.

Pfizer and Moderna announced the Food and Drug Administration’s decision after at least 10 states already had started offering boosters to all adults. The latest action simplifies what until now has been a confusing list of who’s eligible by allowing anyone 18 or older to choose either company’s booster six months after their last dose — regardless of which vaccine they had first.

But there’s one more step: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must agree to expand Pfizer and Moderna boosters to even healthy young adults. Its scientific advisers were set to debate later Friday.

If the CDC agrees, tens of millions more Americans could have three doses of protection ahead of the new year. Anyone who got the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine can already get a booster.

All three COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. still offer strong protection against severe illness including hospitalization and death, but protection against infection can wane with time. Previously, the government had cleared boosters of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, as well as the similar Moderna vaccine, only for vulnerable groups including older Americans and people with chronic health problems. Read the full story here:

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VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS