CDC advisers back COVID-19 booster shots for those 65 and older
WASHINGTON, D.C. – An advisory panel of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States recommended on Thursday, a booster shot of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older and some adults with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk of severe disease.
But the panel declined to recommend boosters for younger adults, including healthcare workers, who live or work in institutions with high risk of contracting COVID-19, which could narrow the scope of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use authorisation issued on Wednesday.
The guidelines voted on by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices still need to be signed off on by agency director Rochelle Walensky.
The recommendations are not binding, and states and other jurisdictions could disregard them and use other approaches to administering the booster shots.
Still, the vote by the group, following the FDA’s authorisation clears the way for a booster roll-out to begin as soon as this week for millions of people who had their second dose of the Pfizer shot at least six months ago.
Beyond older Americans, the committee also recommended the shots for all adults over 50 with underlying conditions, as well as some 18-year-olds to 49-year-olds with those conditions, based on their individual risk profile.
Those conditions include cancer, diabetes, certain heart conditions and chronic kidney disease and lung disorders.
The recommendations only cover people who received their second Pfizer-BioNTech shot at least six months earlier.
The CDC said that group is currently about 26 million people, including 13 million aged 65 or older.
The panel gave the thumbs down for now to additional doses for groups including healthcare workers, teachers and residents of homeless shelters and prisons, in part because of the difficulty of implementing such a proposal.
Panel member Lynn Bahta, who works with the Minnesota Department of Health, voted against that measure, which would have broadly increased availability.
She said the data does not support boosters in that group yet.
“The science shows that we have a really effective vaccine,” she said.
The committee said it could revisit the guidance later.