CDC gives go ahead to Pfizer COVID-19 boosters

CDC Director Walensky overrode an agency panel to recommend the shots for healthcare workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 for members of some populations.

According to a news release, the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommends booster doses of the vaccine Comirnaty for those over 65 and those at high risk of severe COVID-19 due to an underlying condition. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky went a step further and recommended the extra shots for those in high-risk occupations or institutions.

The updated recommendations as they appear in the release are:

  • people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
  • people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
  • people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and
  • people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

“I believe we can best serve the nation’s public health needs by providing booster doses for the elderly, those in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions, and for adults at high risk of disease from occupational and institutional exposures to COVID-19,” Walensky says in the release. “This aligns with the FDA’s booster authorization and makes these groups eligible for a booster shot. Today, ACIP only reviewed data for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. We will address, with the same sense of urgency, recommendations for the Moderna and J&J vaccines as soon as those data are available.”

Previously, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the additional shot to be administered at least six months after the primary doses in patients 65 years of age and older, patients between 18 and 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19, and in patients who work in close proximity to the virus which leaves them at risk for severe COVID-19.

The move was expected after the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee held an open meeting Sept. 17 where they voted against authorizing the additional shots for the general public.

On Aug. 23, the FDA fully approved the Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in people age 16 and older, the first COVID vaccine to receive such approval.