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Experts weigh pros and cons of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots

FDA to meet over COVID booster shots
FDA to meet over COVID booster shots 10:35

Update: The FDA advisory panel voted late Friday to recommend Pfizer booster shots for people 65 and over and others at higher risk of serious illness; read the latest here. Our earlier story is below.

An FDA advisory panel is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss and vote on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

In August, President Biden announced his plan to get booster shots into arms as early as September 20 to fight back against the coronavirus.

But getting the FDA to approve a third shot before that date is an uphill battle. 

Pfizer said studies show people who received a booster shot six to eight months after their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine tripled their antibodies — increasing protection against mild infection and the contagious Delta variant.

Experts like Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, say they believe that based off publicly available data, it does appear that a third shot is safe and effective.

"I think people who are vulnerable, people who are older, people with chronic diseases, immunocompromised, they would benefit from a third shot. I think it is necessary for that group. For young and healthy people, I am far less convinced that we need that third shot," Jha said on "CBS Mornings"

Scientists at the World Health Organization came out against the United States' booster plans and said that countries like the U.S. should refrain from issuing booster shots until vaccine supplies are high enough in other countries that are struggling to vaccinate their populations.

Supporters of distributing booster shots have pointed to Israel, which already approved a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. A study from Israel found that the shot increased protection against severe illness in people 60 and older.

But FDA reviewers this week warned against relying on studies from other countries because the agency hadn't independently verified the data or their conclusions.

In an attempt to clear up confusion, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that the Biden administration is listening to top health officials who support handing out COVID boosters. Psaki said they will be prepared to distribute when the FDA approves the shot.

Jha added navigating the public messaging for the need for shot number three is "tricky" for the Biden administration.

"It's a tricky thing for the Biden administration because on one hand they obviously want to, we all want to get unvaccinated people vaccinated because that is by far the most important thing we can be doing," Jha said. "But there are older, vulnerable people, people in nursing homes and elsewhere who probably need that third shot. And they've got to prepare for that population, as well. So it is a tricky message, but we've got to get both of those messages out there."

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