When an FDA advisory group agreed on Friday that only people 65 years of age and older or at high risk of severe COVID-19 should receive vaccine booster shots to boost their immunity, Colleen Logan was left out of this equation.
The 60-year-old Walnut Creek kindergarten teacher is concerned that working with children too young for injections may put her at risk for the deadly disease. She was hoping she would qualify soon after President Biden announced recall plans last month starting next week, citing evidence that vaccine protection is waning.
But she followed the panel’s recommendation on Saturday, confident that experts have her best interests at heart as they question whether boosters for those vaccinated will do more good than harm, a question that has divided the medical community.
“I think it’s okay,” Logan said as he left a Trader Joe’s market. “I’m not the FDA so I think they know what they’re doing.”
The Food and Drug Administration’s medical expert panel recommendation on Friday was non-binding and applied only to the Pfizer vaccine, not to Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. But it was the first in a series of important regulatory steps that will continue next week with an advisory committee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and stood out for its step back against the president’s broad plan.
Medical experts across the country were divided in their responses to the panel’s recommendation. Dr Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research in San Diego, said on Twitter that there was “no good reason” to remove booster recipients at 65, not 60.
Another expert, UC Irvine epidemiologist Andrew Noymer, was more blunt, offering bogus “kudos” to the panel.
“You signed the death warrant for thousands of Americans,” Noymer said in a tweet.
Others applauded the decision: Dr Ashish K. Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, said on Twitter that the panel’s vote was a “good result” and “clearly consistent with the evidence ”. Dr Monica Gandhi of UC-San Francisco said that “the decision makes sense to me”, noting that “we often give extra injections or higher doses to older people”.
Many of those elderly people and their doctors who have followed reports of declining vaccine protection as the contagious delta variant ravages the country were not waiting for the government’s blessing.
Melvin and Esther Mann of Walnut Creek, aged 93 and 85, respectively, said they took medical advice that their immunity may have started to wane almost eight months after receiving their first round of doses of the vaccine. . It was obvious for the duo, who emphasized their confidence in expert advice, to get a third blow.
Melvin, whose 93rd birthday is in October, is optimistic the FDA can take the steps it needs to take. In the meantime, he and his wife enjoy folk dancing to keep active and try to encourage their friends and family to get vaccinated when they can.
“I’m angry with all the people who oppose it,” Melvin said. “They are causing us more problems than it is worth.”
In response to the FDA recommendation, California public health officials said in a statement that they are already actively preparing to deploy boosters and will begin administering them immediately once officially approved.
On the other hand, Alameda County Public Health said its goal remains to get a first dose for the 23% of county residents who are not vaccinated while prioritizing reminders only for residents. the most vulnerable ”in the county.
Earlier this week, Santa Clara County health officials promised residents that the county’s recall rollout will be smoother going forward than it initially was.
As the boosters debate unfolds, another teacher who finished a grocery run on Saturday said she was convinced her immunity to the Moderna vaccine was protecting her from COVID-19 and was not concerned that the panel of the FDA has not discussed boosters for this shot. .
“We have teachers who have diabetes – I wish they would get the booster,” said Denise Reinsch, 53, of Walnut Creek, who keeps a physical distance from her sixth-graders, some of whom proudly announce to their teacher that they will get vaccinated from the age of 12. “But I think the general population is feeling pretty good. We are not too worried. Personally, I do not know anyone who is not vaccinated.
Logan felt the same. Although the teacher at the San Ramon Unified School District was disappointed to have to return to class in the spring, a few weeks before she was vaccinated, she is confident of her safety now that she has received the vaccines.
“Since being vaccinated,” Logan said, “I feel safer in the classroom. “