Even as booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines become widely available in the U.S., some vaccine experts are not convinced that the shots are broadly necessary.
While studies indicate that older adults have a higher risk of severe breakthrough Covid cases, limited data are available on the need for boosters among younger age groups.
In addition, pressure from the federal government has made it difficult for some vaccine experts to make objective decisions about boosters, several experts said in interviews with the New York Times.
Over 13 million Americans have received an additional vaccine dose as of October 25, including about 18 percent of seniors.
Booster shots are now widely available for Americans, but some experts aren't sure they are widely needed. Pictured: A nurse receives a Pfizer booster in Miami, Florida, October 2021
Over 13 million Americans have received a booster dose so far, according to the CDC. States in darker blue on this map have administered boosters to larger shares of their vaccinated populations, with Alaska at the highest share (11%)
Additional Covid vaccine doses were first approved for Americans with weakened immune systems in mid-August.
Then, in late September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorized booster shots for seniors and other people considered high-risk who had received the Pfizer vaccine.
The agencies followed this with additional authorizations last week, enabling Americans who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines to receive additional doses.
As of October 25, about 13.3 million Americans have received a booster shot.
This includes 8.2 million seniors, representing about 18 percent of Americans over age 65.
Despite this broad adoption, some vaccine experts are skeptical about whether the additional vaccine doses are actually necessary - particularly for younger age groups.
Experts who serve on FDA and CDC advisory committees conveyed their concerns over limited data and political pressures in interviews with the Times.
'These are not evidence-based recommendations,' Dr Sarah Long, a pediatric infectious disease expert who services on the CDC's vaccine advisory committee, told the Times.
The current federal authorizations for boosters allow seniors, adults who have medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe Covid, and those who live and work in high-risk settings (such as hospitals and schools) to receive Pfizer and Moderna boosters.
In addition, all adults who initially received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a J&J booster.
'I don't think that we have evidence that everybody in those groups needs a booster today,' Dr Matthew Daley, also a member of the CDC's vaccine advisory committee, told the Times.
The evidence in favor of booster shots for seniors is clearer than the evidence for other groups. Pictured: Booster