New York City joined four states, Arkansas, California, Colorado, and New Mexico, that have told health officials to give COVID-19 booster shots to all adults who want them.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have only authorized booster shots for people over the age of 65, those who have a risk of developing severe complications from the virus, and those who work in a job where they can be exposed to the virus.
Pfizer has asked the FDA to authorize its booster shot for all adults, but the agency has not yet made a decision. Local health officials got tired of waiting and approved the booster for all adults who were vaccinated at least six months ago.
Health experts have cited growing evidence showing the efficacy of the booster shots wanes over time and that boosters prevent symptomatic infections and hospitalizations. In addition, state officials have pointed that it is nearly impossible to ensure that people meet the broad criteria for the booster dose.
“What we’re finding is that we want more people to get their booster shot and that this is somewhat confusing and limiting as to the eligibility,” Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “We’re changing that.”
Not all experts believe it is a good idea for states and cities to defy recommendations from FDA and CDC.
Dr. Jesse Goodman, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University Medical Center and a former chief scientist with the FDA, told NBC News it is “unfortunate, ill-considered and a dangerous precedent for state or local governments to unilaterally extend use of the booster dose of Covid vaccines beyond current recommendations.”
“Any such decisions should be made nationally and only after independent review by FDA and CDC,” Goodman said. “Acting based on personal opinions or politics and with incomplete data is irresponsible and undermines protections in place to help ensure the best possible decisions.”
As of Monday (November 15), over 30 million fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster shot.