Public health experts remain worried about the possibility of another surge this winter as colder weather drives people indoors, where transmission chiefly occurs.

An independent advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday unanimously recommended a booster dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine for people 65 and older and for adults who are at high risk of severe illness because of underlying conditions or exposure on the job, the Washington Post reports.

The recommendation mirrors the eligibility criteria for the Pfizer-BioNTech booster, which was authorized in September. Nearly 70 million Americans have been fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, and millions of them would be eligible for a follow-up dose six months after vaccination if the agency authorizes the extra shot, which would be half the dose initially given.

The recommendation will now be considered by FDA officials, who are expected to reach a decision on the Moderna booster within days. An advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that makes recommendations on how vaccines should be used is scheduled to meet Wednesday.

Boosters are a key part of the Biden administration’s plan to manage the pandemic, and the outside advisers agreed they are an important tool for select groups of people. Cases of covid-19 have been declining in the United States as the lethal fourth wave of the pandemic, fueled by the delta variant, appears to be ebbing. But public health experts remain worried about the possibility of another surge this winter as colder weather drives people indoors, where transmission chiefly occurs.

Some health experts have argued that there is not enough evidence to justify administering boosters to certain populations, especially younger, healthier people who, if they become infected, are likely to have asymptomatic or mild infections. But several Biden health officials believe it is important to reduce cases in vaccinated people, even if they do not result in hospitalization, to bring down the overall caseload.

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