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Faye Flam

FDA's One-Size-Fits-All Covid Booster Plan Needs to Go

Public health officials should recognize that additional shots are now a more nuanced decision.

A low-risk patient.

A low-risk patient.

Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration needs a new Covid vaccine policy that follows the latest immunology and vaccine efficacy data. At a meeting scheduled for Thursday, the agency should acknowledge booster shots aren’t having much effect on the spread of Covid. Pushing them on young, healthy people is a waste of resources and a drain on public trust.

If given at the right time, the boosters still decrease the odds of getting severely ill or dying — and any policy going forward has to focus on the people most at risk. But the ideal timing is complicated, and getting more shots isn’t necessarily better. The FDA’s plan, according to early reports, is to push boosters every fall, like flu shots — which makes sense for those at low risk but might not suit those over 75, who might benefit from more frequent shots.