LAURAN NEERGAARD and MIKE STOBBE
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday approved booster shots for millions of elderly or other vulnerable Americans, opening a major new step in the US immunization drive against COVID-19.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky approved a series of recommendations from the Advisory Board late Thursday.
Advisors said boosters should be provided to people over the age of 65, residents of nursing homes, and people between the ages of 50 and 64 who are at risk for potential health problems. An additional dose will be given at least 6 months after the last shot of Pfizer.
However, Warensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel rejected.
Thursday’s panel voted against the fact that if you’re a healthcare worker between the ages of 18 and 64, or if you’re doing another job that increases your risk of being exposed to the virus, you can get a booster.
However, Warensky objected and reverted the recommendation. He noted that such a move was in line with the FDA booster approval decision earlier this week. The categories she included are for people living in facilities that increase the risk of exposure, such as prisons and homeless shelters, and for healthcare professionals.
The panel provided a booster option for people aged 18-49 who have chronic health problems and want them. However, the advisor refused to go any further and opened the booster to healthy front-line healthcare professionals who were not at risk of serious illness but wanted to avoid even mild infections.
The panel voted 9-6 to reject the proposal. However, Warensky decided to ignore the advisory board’s advice on the matter. In a decision hours after the panel was postponed, Warensky issued a statement that it had reinstated the recommendations.
“As a CDC director, it’s my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,” Warrensky said in a late Thursday night statement. “The CDC needs to analyze complex and often incomplete data to make specific recommendations for optimizing health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we are in the greatest interest. You must take the action that is expected to bring about. “
Experts say getting the first unvaccinated shot remained a top priority, and the panel wrestled with whether the booster discussion was distracting from that goal.
All three COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States provide high protection against serious illness, hospitalization, and death, even in the presence of highly contagious delta variants. However, only about 182 million Americans, or 55% of the population, are fully vaccinated.
“We can give people boosters, but that’s not the real answer to this pandemic,” said Dr. Helen Kape Talbot of Vanderbilt University. “The hospital is full because people are not vaccinated. They are full of unvaccinated COVID-positive patients and refuse to care for those who deserve care.”
Thursday’s decision represented a dramatic reduction in the Biden administration’s plan announced last month to distribute boosters to almost everyone to strengthen protection. At the end of Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer boosters for slices of a much smaller population than the White House envisioned, like the CDC panel.
The booster program represents a significant change in the country’s vaccination drive. The UK and Israel have already given a third round shot against strong opposition from the World Health Organization that poor countries are not sufficient for the initial dose.
Warrensky opened a meeting on Thursday, emphasizing that unvaccinated vaccination remains a top priority “here in the United States and around the world.”
Walensky admitted that the data on who really needs a booster right away is “not perfect.” “But collectively they form a picture for us,” she said, “and they have at this moment we have to make a decision about the next stage of this pandemic. It is. “
The CDC Panel emphasized that its recommendations will change as new evidence shows that more people need boosters.
CDC advisers have expressed concern to the millions of Americans who received shots of Moderna or Johnson & Johnson early in the deployment of the vaccine. The government has not yet considered boosters for those brands and has no data on whether giving Pfizer shots to those people is safe or effective.
Can we say to people over the age of 65 late this afternoon, “You are at risk of serious illness and death, but now you can only protect yourself in half.” I don’t know, “said Dr. Sara Long. Of Drexel University.
About 26 million Americans received the last dose of Pfizer at least six months ago, about half of whom are 65 or older. It’s not clear how many more CDC panel boosters qualify.
According to CDC data, the vaccine provides strong protection against serious illnesses of all ages, but is slightly reduced among the oldest adults. And immunity to mild infections appears to diminish months after people’s initial immunity.
For most people, if they don’t belong to the recommended group for boosters, “because we really think you’re well protected,” said Dr. Matthew Daily of Kaiser Permanente Colorado.
Public health experts who were not involved in Thursday’s decision said it was unlikely that people seeking a third dose at a drugstore or other site would need to prove their eligibility.
According to CDC’s Dr. Kathleen Dooling, even with the introduction of boosters, those who receive only the first two vaccinations are considered completely vaccinated. This is an important question for some people in some countries who need to show evidence of vaccination in order to eat at a restaurant or enter another place of business.
The CDC has concluded that there is little risk among those who are in a position to benefit from boosters. Serious side effects from the first two doses of Pfizer are extremely rare and include occasional heart inflammation in young men. Data from Israel, which gave Pfizer a third dose to nearly 3 million people (mainly over 60 years of age), did not reveal a danger signal.
The United States has already approved a third dose of the Pfizer and Modana vaccines for certain people with weakened immunity, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients. Other Americans could get boosters by simply asking, whether healthy or not.
The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.
CDC readers add people doing dangerous work to the COVID booster list – Daily Local
Source link CDC readers add people doing dangerous work to the COVID booster list – Daily Local