By LAURAN NEERGAARD and MATTHEW PERRONE
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators have authorized an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in people with weakened immune systems to better protect them from the virus.
The announcement Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration applies to millions of Americans who take immune-suppressing medicines because of organ transplants, cancer or other disorders. The decision does not apply to otherwise healthy individuals.
Health authorities are closely monitoring if and when the general population will need a booster shot but say for now, the vaccines continue to be highly effective in most healthy people.
It’s harder for vaccines to rev up an immune system suppressed by certain medications and diseases, so those patients don’t always get the same protection as otherwise healthy people — and small studies suggest for at least some, an extra dose may be the solution.
“Today’s action allows doctors to boost immunity in certain immunocompromised individuals who need extra protection from COVID-19,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting commissioner, said in a statement.