Older man receives COVID-19 shot

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized a second COVID-19 booster shot for those 50 and older, along with those over age 12 with certain immune deficiencies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would update its guidance to reflect the FDA’s recent decision. Those who are eligible for the second booster can take the Pfizer or Moderna shot at least four months after their first booster, the FDA said.

Those who received boosters at least four months ago “should seriously consider getting another,” said Peter Marks, M.D., head of the FDA’s vaccine division.

While the FDA reportedly made its decision with limited data, there is evidence that a second booster is effective in seniors. A recent study in Israel found that a second booster shot lowers the risk of seniors dying from COVID-19 illness by 78%. Israel approved its second booster shot in January.

The development comes as new cases of COVID-19 continue to fall and a new dominant strain of omicron, BA.2, accounts for over half of new U.S. cases. While seniors have high vaccination rates, there remain concerns about low vaccination rates among certain groups. Two senators recently asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the low vaccination rate among Medicaid recipients. Some 5 million frontline workers are on Medicaid, the senators noted in their letter. A vaccine mandate instituted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pertaining to entities receiving Medicare and Medicaid is still in effect.