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FDA’s booster decision allows individuals to manage their own covid-19 risks

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The Food and Drug Administration’s decision on Tuesday to authorize a fourth coronavirus vaccine dose for Americans older than 50 heralds a new approach to the pandemic. Instead of the federal government prescribing actions that everyone should take, it is providing tools so that individuals can choose their own level of protection.

The FDA’s announcement, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s subsequent green light, has provoked a mixed response. Some criticized the process; unlike previous vaccine authorizations, independent advisers to the FDA and CDC have not yet weighed in, and in fact are scheduled to meet next week to discuss exactly this issue. Others applauded the expedited timeline, especially as the CDC just reported that the extremely contagious BA.2 omicron subvariant has become the dominant strain in the United States.

The medical community itself is split over whether a fourth dose is needed. That’s because there is no consensus about the purpose of vaccination. Is it to prevent severe disease? Or is it to reduce any symptomatic illness?

If the goal of vaccination is to prevent hospitalization and death, the vaccine plus one booster should be sufficient. A CDC study found that two doses resulted in an 88 percent reduction in being on a........

© Washington Post

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