CDC Advisors Recommend Letting All U.S. Adults Take A Covid Booster Shot

By Joe Walsh, Forbes Staff

Topline

An advisory panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed giving out booster shots to all American adults who initially took Pfizer or Moderna's Covid-19 vaccines Friday, setting the stage for federal officials to let all Americans over 18 get an extra dose regardless of their health conditions.

Nurse Mary Ezzat prepares to administer a Pfizer Covid-19 booster shot at UCI Medical Center in Orange, CA on August 19, 2021. MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Key Facts

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Friday afternoon to recommend booster shots for everyone ages 50 and older who took Pfizer or Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine at least six months ago, as well as for anyone 18 or older who’s in a long-term care facility.

In a separate vote, the committee endorsed allowing those over the age of 18 to receive a booster shot as well, depending on risks and benefits.

The votes came hours after the Food and Drug Administration authorized giving Pfizer and Moderna booster shots to all U.S. adults.

Adults who received Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine at least two months ago were recommended to take booster shots last month.

What To Watch For

The committee’s recommendation is nonbinding, and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will need to approve the decision before it takes effect.

Key Background

The Biden Administration has discussed handing out booster shots to fully vaccinated Americans since August, aiming to reduce the risk of waning vaccine effectiveness and bolster protection against Covid-19 as infections flared. But FDA and CDC officials approved extra doses more gradually: Seniors and adults whose jobs or medical conditions put them at a high-risk of Covid-19 were authorized for boosters of Pfizer’s vaccine in September and Moderna’s vaccine in October. An FDA advisory board said two months ago there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest Pfizer booster shots are needed for those with lower risks, but since then, Pfizer has released clinical trial data showing booster doses are 95.6% effective at stopping symptomatic Covid-19 infections, compared to patients who didn’t get the extra shot.

Surprising Fact

Some 17.8% of fully vaccinated U.S. adults — or over 32 million people — have already taken a Covid-19 booster shot, according to the CDC. Many of those Americans could fall into the high-risk categories previously approved by health officials, but booster shots have become readily available even without the CDC and FDA’s signoff. In the last two weeks, states like California, Colorado, Utah and Massachusetts have gone beyond federal guidance and expanded access to boosters to all adults on their own.


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