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CDC Director Endorses Pfizer COVID Booster

CDC Director Endorses Pfizer COVID Booster

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine for those 65 and older, and those 18 and older who are at high risk. As of Thursday, around 64 percent of people 12 years and older have been fully vaccinated against Covid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For those 18 and older, that number is around 66 percent. But the rate of vaccinations varies by state, with some states at around less than 45 percent of total residents fully vaccinated, although those numbers include children not eligible for it. Some parts of the country have recently seen overwhelmed hospitals due to a surge of Covid patients.

Early on Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky endorsed recommendations for a third dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for certain at-risk groups, clearing the way for millions of Americans to get a booster. The committee of advisers had voted Thursday against recommending a booster for people younger than 65 who have a high risk of being exposed to the virus at work, including health care workers and teachers.

Brandon Rivera, a Los Angeles County emergency medical technician, gives a second does of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to Aaron Delgado, 16, at a pop up vaccine clinic in the Arleta neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, August 23, 2021. – The US Food and Drug Administration on August 23, fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid shot, triggering a new wave of vaccine mandates as the Delta variant batters the country.
Around 52 percent of the American population is fully vaccinated, but health authorities have hit a wall of vaccine-hesitant people, impeding the national campaign. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The CDC now says that people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should get a booster, and so should people 50 to 64 years old who have an underlying medical condition. Those 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions, and those 18 to 64 who are at an increased risk because of an occupational or institutional setting, “may” get a shot, the CDC says. Dr. Walensky signed off on the recommendations for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after advisers approved them Thursday. She not only endorsed the recommendations, but she went further, also recommending a third dose for workers in high-risk settings and those in institutional settings.

“This updated interim guidance from CDC allows for millions of Americans who are at highest risk for COVID-19 to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot to help increase their protection,” the agency said in a statement. The CDC also says it will be reviewing data in the coming weeks and will make recommendations about those who got the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Moderna has submitted its application to the FDA for its booster dose, and Johnson & Johnson has provided data but has not said when it will seek emergency use authorization.

Walensky said that recommending a booster for those in at-risk work and other environments mirrors FDA emergency use authorization. The booster is to be given at least six months after people get their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

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