The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday approved booster vaccines for millions of elderly or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening a major new phase in the US vaccination effort against COVID-19.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky a set of recommendations from a panel of advisors Thursday late. Counselors said support should be given to people aged 65 and over, nursing home residents, and people aged 50 to 64 with underlying risky health conditions. The extra dose will be given at least six months after the last Pfizer vaccine.
However, Walensky decided to make a proposal that the panel rejected.
Thursday’s panel voted against, saying that people can take a booster if they are between the ages of 18 and 64 and are healthcare workers or have another job that increases their risk of exposure to the virus.
However, Walensky disagreed and retracted this advice, stating that such a move was congruent. with an FDA booster authorization decision earlier this week. The category it includes includes people and healthcare workers living in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters.
A CDC panel of advisors voted to recommend an empowering image of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to Americans over 65 and high-risk, supporting a similar decision by the FDA.
The panel offered support options for people aged 18-49 who had and wanted to have chronic health problems. But counselors refused to go any further and open their support to otherwise healthy frontline healthcare workers who are not at risk of serious illness but want to avoid even a mild infection.
The panel voted 6 to 9 to reject this proposal. However, Walensky decided not to heed the advisory committee’s advice on this matter. In a decision taken hours after the panel was adjourned, Walensky issued a statement stating that he had followed the recommendation.
“As CDC Director, it’s my job to understand where our actions can have the greatest impact,” Walensky said late Thursday night. “At the CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even when there is uncertainty, we must take actions that we predict will do the greatest good.”
Getting the unvaccinated to get their first vaccination remains a top priority, experts say, and the panel grapples with whether empowering debate is diverting attention from that goal.
All three of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the US are still highly protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death, despite the spread of the extra-contagious delta variant. But only 182 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or only 55% of the population.
Vanderbilt University’s Dr. “We can give people boosters, but that’s not really the answer to this pandemic,” said Helen Keipp Talbot. Hospitals are full because people are not vaccinated. We reject care for people who deserve care because we are full of unvaccinated COVID-positive patients.”
Thursday’s decision represented a dramatic setback. Biden management plan announced last month distribute boosters to nearly everyone to support their protection. Late Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration, like the CDC panel, signed off on Pfizer boosters for a much narrower slice of the population than the White House had envisioned.
“These support shots are free,” President Joe Biden said on Wednesday. “It’ll be easy. Just show your vaccination card and you’ll get a booster. No other ID, no insurance, no state residency requirements.”
The support plan marks a significant shift in the nation’s vaccine drive. Britain and Israel are already taking a third shot over the WHO’s strong objections that poor countries do not have enough doses for their first dose.
Walensky opened Thursday’s meeting by emphasizing that vaccinating the unvaccinated remains a top goal “here in America and around the world.”
Walensky acknowledged that the data on who needs the booster right away were “not perfect”. “They are still collectively forming a picture for us,” he said, “and they are what we have right now to decide on the next phase of this pandemic.”
The CDC panel stressed that their recommendations will change if new evidence shows that more people need a booster.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the US now exceeds 675,000, surpassing the deadliest pandemic in the country’s history, the 1918 flu. The record comes as leaders beg unvaccinated adults to get vaccinated, while already vaccinated adults wonder about booster vaccines to boost their immune response. Dr. Alok Patel weighs in.
CDC consultants, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots early in the vaccine launch. The government still hasn’t considered boosters for these brands and has no data on whether it’s safe or effective to mix and match and give these people a shot at Pfizer.
“I don’t see how we could say to people aged 65 and over this afternoon, ‘You are at risk of serious illness and death, but right now only half of you can protect yourself,'” Sarah Long said. from Drexel University.
Nearly 26 million Americans took their last dose of Pfizer at least six months ago, and about half of them are 65 years or older. It’s unclear how many more will meet the CDC panel’s empowering qualifications.
Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that the data is being reviewed to see if there will be recommendations for future COVID-boosting vaccines.
CDC data show that vaccines still offer strong protection against serious diseases at all ages, but there is a slight decline among the oldest adults. And immunity to milder infections seems to wane months after people get their first vaccination.
From Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Dr. For most people, if you’re not in a recommended group for the booster, it’s “because we think you’re really well protected,” said Matthew Daley.
Public health experts who were not involved in Thursday’s decision said people wishing to take a third dose at a pharmacy or elsewhere do not need to prove they are fit.
CDC’s Dr. According to Kathleen Dooling, even with the introduction of boosters, someone who has only taken the first two doses will still be considered fully vaccinated. This is an important question for people in some parts of the country where you need to show proof of vaccination to dine at a restaurant or enter other businesses.
The CDC concluded that there is little risk among people who continue to benefit from a booster. Serious side effects from the first two doses of Pfizer are extremely rare, including heart inflammation sometimes seen in younger men. Data from Israel, which gave a third dose of Pfizer to nearly 3 million people, most of them aged 60 and over, raised no red flags.
The US has already allowed third doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients. Other Americans, healthy or not, have in some cases managed to get boosters just by asking.
Pfizer said Monday that early trial results show the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11.
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