Pfizer CEO Says 4th Dose 'Is Necessary'

But he's hoping company will soon have a shot that works against all variants
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2022 1:34 AM CDT
Updated Mar 16, 2022 12:44 AM CDT
Yes, Pfizer Recipients Will Need 4th Dose: CEO
A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Oct. 5, 2021, in Miami.   (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

(Newser) Update: Pfizer, along with its partner BioNTech, on Tuesday asked US regulators to authorize an additional COVID vaccine booster for seniors. The pharmaceutical company says data from Israel as well as an ongoing study of healthcare workers suggest those 65 and older would benefit from a fourth dose, the AP reports. Currently, only the severely immunocompromised are authorized to receive a second booster after their original two-dose vaccine. It's not clear when the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control might weigh in on Pfizer's request. Our original story from Monday follows:

If you got the Pfizer vaccine, you can plan on a fourth dose. While the two-dose vaccine plus a booster shot still provides "quite good" protection against hospitalizations and deaths, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, omicron was the first variant "that was able to evade—in a skillful way—the immune protection that we're giving." That means even the three-dose regimen is "not that good" at fending off a COVID-19 infection from a variant like omicron. With more variants coming, he said, a fourth dose of the vaccine "is necessary."

US health officials have not yet weighed in on whether a fourth shot will be approved for healthy adults or teens. "We are just submitting those data to the FDA, and then we'll see what the experts also would say outside Pfizer," Bourla said. The good news: Both Pfizer and Moderna are working on shots that would specifically protect recipients against omicron, and Pfizer is also working on a shot that could protect against all variants, with immunity lasting at least a full year, CNN reports. He predicts that in the future, a COVID shot will be recommended every fall, just like the flu shot. As for kids under age 5, who are not yet eligible for any COVID vaccine, Bourla said information from the trials will likely be ready next month, and if it looks good, distribution could start in May. (Read more Pfizer stories.)

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