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Why COVID booster shots aren't for everyone

The FDA will consider expanding the availability of booster shots later this week.

ATLANTA — The Food and Drug Administration will meet later this week to consider expanding the availability of COVID-19 booster shots that, for now, are not for everyone.

In September, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer vaccine, allowing certain groups to receive a booster. That includes people over the age of 65. This week, the FDA will consider adding Moderna and J&J boosters to the EUA.

The CDC looked at several studies before determining who would be eligible for a COVID booster. Those studies showed both Moderna and Pfizer losing strength over time no matter the age of the person getting the shots.

The studies also show COVID vaccines are effective at protecting against serious illness for most people, but a serious decline in protection for people over 65.

“We are seeing a difference in that particular group because they are more vulnerable to the virus,” Dr. Ashley Hannings of UGA’s College of Pharmacy said.

The overwhelming majority of COVID-19 deaths involve people over 65.

“It has to do with what risk the virus poses to them and how likely they are to end up in the hospital because that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Dr. Hannings said.

Currently, Pfizer booster shots are available to people over the age of 18 who are at high risk due to their job or underlying medical conditions

The CDC lists examples of people whose job puts them at risk, high risk, including teachers, bus drivers, and people who work in grocery stores. If you work in a place where it’s virtually impossible to avoid the unvaccinated, you qualify.

If you’re overweight, or have asthma, those are among the medical conditions that would qualify you for a booster.