Biden officials say booster shot not currently needed following Pfizer meeting

Pfizer officials briefed U.S. health officials on Monday about preliminary data concerning the need for a third shot of the company's COVID-19 vaccine, but the Biden administration said its stance has not changed that a booster shot is not currently needed.

The meeting comes after Pfizer made some waves last week by saying it would be applying to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for authorization for a third shot of its COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pushed back hours later in a rare joint statement saying a booster was not currently needed.

On Monday, Pfizer officials briefed Biden administration health officials on the preliminary data, which is not public, that the company used to determine that a booster shot is needed.

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But a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson said following the meeting that there is no near-term change in the government's advice and that a booster shot is not currently needed.

"We appreciate the information they shared, and officials continue to engage in a science-based rigorous process to consider whether, when, or for whom a booster might be necessary," the HHS spokesperson said.

"At this time, fully vaccinated Americans do not need a booster shot," the spokesperson added. "The vaccines available now offer a very high degree of protection. The administration is prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed, and any recommendation by CDC and FDA would come after their thorough review process. Officials will continue to review any new data as it becomes available and will keep the public informed."

Administration officials have stressed that while data from Pfizer may be part of the decision on whether a booster is ultimately needed, they will take into account a range of evidence to make the decision.

Still, U.S. officials are not saying booster shots will never be needed, just that there is not evidence yet that they are currently required.

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Pfizer said in a statement that the meeting was "productive" and that it would be publishing "more definitive data" in a peer-reviewed journal in the future.

“We had a productive meeting with U.S. public health officials on the elements of our research program and the preliminary booster data in our ongoing trials," Pfizer said. "Both Pfizer and the U.S. government share a sense of urgency in staying ahead of the virus that causes COVID-19, and we also agree that the scientific data will dictate next steps in the rigorous regulatory process that we always follow."

World Health Organization officials pushed back on Pfizer's call for booster shots earlier on Monday, saying vulnerable people across the world are still waiting for their first two shots and should be the priority before people in wealthy countries get a third shot.