COVID-19 vaccine boosters can begin for some US adults as CDC partially diverges from its advisers' recommendations

Posted at 2:52 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 17:39:41-04

(WXYZ) — Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster shot has been officially approved for certain adults. The CDC endorsed the agency’s independent advisers’ recommendations on boosters, except for one. In an unusual move, the CDC Chief overruled one recommendation that the panel had rejected.

I do agree with the CDC’s Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s decision. It not only affects myself and fellow colleagues but all frontline workers. The CDC’s independent panel of experts - called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices - spent a couple of days scrutinizing data. They heavily debated if the occupational risk should be a criterion for Pfizer’s booster shot.

I want to point out that when the FDA approved Pfizer’s booster shot, they also gave recommendations of who should get them. However, it’s up to the CDC to decide who qualifies. So when the CDC’s advisory committee voted, they mostly agreed with the FDA. Except they voted 9-6 against recommending boosters for people ages 18 to 64 who were at greater risk because of their occupational or institutional settings.

This is where I, as a physician, fit in. I applaud Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s unusual move to change this and put the recommendation back in. Now this group of people whose work situation puts their health at risk day in and day out can get a third shot to help protect themselves. In fact, I’m so excited I’m scheduling my 3rd shot today.

This was not an easy decision. The data was complex and was not perfect. It did show that immunity for mild infections is waning months after being fully immunized. The CDC’s data also indicated that our vaccines are still very protective against serious illness and death for most ages. With a slight drop for the older population.

The independent advisory committee overall felt that most healthy people didn’t need a booster dose. Whereas Dr. Walensky’s decision aligns more with the FDA. And she said, “In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good."

The folks who are between the ages of 18 and 64 that are healthcare workers, teachers, or anyone whose job puts them at an increased risk of infection are approved. It also includes those who live in institutional settings like prisons and homeless shelters.

Next are the folks who are aged 65 and older. Residents who live in a long-term care facility who were re fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 months ago.

Also, people aged 18 to 64 who have underlying health conditions and are at high risk of developing severe disease.

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