In this Q&A, Eric Rubin, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, and temporary voting member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, discusses the committee’s vote on September 17, 2021 to recommend that people age 65 and older, those at risk of developing severe disease, and people in high-risk occupations receive a booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccination is one of public health’s most successful tools for preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases and, increasingly, cancers and chronic diseases too. Immunization is an effective and cost-efficient strategy that prevents sickness and death in all age groups and saves billions of dollars each year. The COVID-19 epidemic and recent outbreaks of measles and other preventable infectious diseases underscore the importance of vaccines and sustaining high vaccination rates. Work is needed to ensure that people of all ages receive a complete series of the vaccines they need.