Matt Rourke / AP
Advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended a third dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 and over, as well as others at high risk for serious illness.
The unanimous vote of the committee to enable older adults and those in need of care to an additional dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was announced after two-day presentations reviewing scientific evidence on the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of vaccine.
The committee also recommended, by 13 votes to 2, that People between the ages of 50 and 64 with previous illnesses are given a third injection.
It also advocated access to a different dose for those ages 18 to 49 who have an underlying medical risk. The panel split on this item 9-6 but chose the advice that these individuals weigh their individual benefits and risks, possibly in consultation with a doctor, before receiving a Pfizer booster vaccination.
In arguably the most controversial deliberation, the committee said people between the ages of 18 and 65 who work in a job or other setting where they are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 should not be given an additional dose of Pfizer .
Committee member Dr. Matthew Zahn, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, expressed concern about the difficulty of implementing such a measure. Another member, the investigator of the Institute for Health Research, Dr. Matthew Daley said he was concerned that the potential guidance would be “extensive enough to restrict access to other groups”.
The CDC does not yet have guidelines on how to use COVID-19 boosters for fully vaccinated Americans. The influential federal public health agency usually follows the advice of its advisory boards, but is not required to do so.
The recommendation follows the approval of the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday to offer a booster vaccination for people aged 65 and over and those at high risk of developing a serious illness. The FDA also gave OK to freshen up people 18 years and older whose exposure to the coronavirus is at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19.
Vaccine providers must follow the CDC’s recommendations
The CDC recommendations, when published, are vital at this stage of the pandemic. As cases increase across the country, booster guidelines will dictate how far doctors and other health care workers will administer these vaccine doses.
Dr. Sara Oliver, a CDC scientist, stressed at the advisory session on Thursday that vaccine providers are required to follow recommendations from as the federal government has purchased all emergency COVID-19 vaccines for the pandemic, including the Pfizer vaccine CDC and the FDA.
CDC and FDA recommendations will affect Biden’s booster plan
The FDA approval also allows the Pfizer booster dose to be distributed to health workers, teachers, food workers, and those in homeless shelters or prisons, said Dr. Janet Woodcock, the agency’s acting commissioner, in a statement.
U.S. regulators will decide on booster recommendations at a later date for those who have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine, The Associated Press reported. Moderna’s two-shot vaccine and Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine are currently being offered under emergency approval pending formal FDA approval.
Like the FDA, the CDC panel’s decision breaks with the Biden government’s comprehensive booster strategy to offer most age groups an extra dose as early as this week to protect Americans from the highly contagious Delta variant.
But the White House said Biden’s booster rollout, which was planned last month, will continue to follow directions from government scientists as both FDA approval and CDC guidelines on COVID-19 vaccine boosters are awaited .