Feds move to expand boosters to all adults

The U.S. government has moved to open up COVID-19 booster shots to all adults, expanding efforts to get ahead of rising coronavirus cases that experts fear could snowball into a winter surge as millions of Americans travel for the holidays.

On Friday, a panel of scientific advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously supported expanding access to booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines to anyone age 18 and up who have received their second dose at least six months ago.

The move came just hours after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the boosters and the CDC panel discussed the safety and usefulness of Pfizer and Moderna boosters in even healthy young adults, The Associated Press reported.

The CDC’s advisers said anyone 18 and older can choose a booster of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine but went an extra step and stressed that people 50 and older should get one, according to wire reports.

The Indiana Department of Health announced Friday that any Hoosier aged 18 or older can now receive a booster dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines so long as they received their second dose at least six months ago.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday approved the administration of a booster dose of both vaccines for people aged 18 and older following the FDA’s decision to expand its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for boosters. Previously, the FDA had approved a third dose for immunocompromised individuals and had allowed boosters for individuals who met certain criteria.

Individuals may still choose which COVID-19 vaccine to receive as a booster shot. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. Individuals who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a booster two months or more after their initial dose.

Hoosiers aged 18 and older who want to obtain a booster dose should go to www.ourshot.in.gov or call 211 for assistance finding a location.

A total of 30,810 Bartholomew County residents ages 18 and up were fully vaccinated as of six months ago and would be eligible for boosters once the CDC gives the final green light, according to federal records.

Nearly 12,000 additional Bartholomew County adults have gotten fully vaccinated since then and would eventually become eligible. Overall, two in three adults in Bartholomew County were fully vaccinated as of Friday morning.

The push to expand boosters comes as new COVID-19 cases have climbed steadily over the last three weeks, especially in states where colder weather is driving people indoors, according to wire reports. Some states didn’t wait for federal officials to act and opened boosters to all adults.

Some experts worry that all the attention to boosters may harm efforts to reach the 60 million Americans who are eligible for vaccinations but haven’t gotten the shots, according to wire reports. There’s also growing concern that rich countries are offering widespread boosters when poor countries haven’t been able to vaccinate more than a small fraction of their populations.

More than 195 million Americans are fully vaccinated, defined as having received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose J&J. More than 30 million already have received a booster. That includes some people who weren’t eligible; many vaccine sites weren’t checking qualifications.

As of Friday morning, around 32,640 eligible Bartholomew County residents were not fully vaccinated, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report