CDC Ignores Advisory Panel and Backs Booster Jabs for Under-65s in ‘High-Risk’ Work Settings, Including Teachers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that Covid booster vaccines should be given not only to the over-65s and to those with underlying medical conditions but also to adults who work in ‘high-risk’ settings, such as teachers. The recommendation comes in spite of the red light given on additional doses for people in more ‘risky’ settings by the centre’s own Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices. Reuters has the story.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said her agency had to make recommendations based on complex, often imperfect data.

“In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good,” she said in a statement. …

The CDC recommendation follows U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorisation and 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.

The CDC said that people 65 years and older should get a booster. Beyond older Americans, the CDC also recommended the shots for all adults over 50 with underlying conditions.

It said that, based on individual benefits and risks, 18 to 49 year-olds with underlying medical conditions may get a booster, and people 18-64 at increased risk of exposure and transmission due to occupational or institutional setting may get a shot. …

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices on Thursday gave the thumbs down to additional doses for groups including healthcare workers, teachers and residents of homeless shelters and prisons.

Panel member Lynn Bahta, who works with the Minnesota Department of Health, voted against that measure. 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 had said it could revisit the guidance later. …

Vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit said he believed the CDC advisers were worried that recommending boosters based on employment would allow overly broad use, especially in younger people for whom the health benefits of a booster shot are still unclear.

“That was a hole that you could drive a truck through, that essentially what we were doing was basically what the (Biden) administration initially asked – to just have a vaccine for the general population, because obviously the pharmacists aren’t going to figure out whether you’re working in a grocery store or hospital,” he said.

Worth reading in full.

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