FDA, CDC Back Pfizer COVID-19 Boosters for Seniors, High-Risk Americans

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) vaccine advisory committee endorsed the use of a Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 booster shot for people 65 years old and older and those who may be at risk of developing severe disease. The move could allow broad latitude for people to access additional doses. The independent committee said the booster dose should be given at least six months after the initial two-dose vaccination series.

The CDC panel’s votes came less than a day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for the same groups. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson inoculations await their own approval.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky accepted the CDC panel’s recommendations regarding COVID-19 booster vaccine doses for adults older than 65 and for residents of long-term care facilities on Friday, clearing the way for the country to begin rolling out boosters more widely.

Dr. Walensky also accepted the panel’s recommendations for booster shots for people ages 50 to 64 who have medical conditions that leave them at risk for severe COVID-19 infections, and for adults ages 18 to 49 who have underlying medical conditions, based on their individual benefit and risk.

The science advisers voted to exclude people at risk because of their occupations, disagreeing among themselves about the evidence of benefits of booster doses for health care workers, teachers and other workers who do not meet the other criteria. Walensky said such workers should get Pfizer boosters.

“We urge everyone to follow the latest guidance,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Vaccinations are crucial for the country to end the pandemic which has claimed the lives of more than 683,000 Americans.”

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