CDC endorses COVID-19 booster shots for people aged 65+ and otherwise vulnerable

The Centers for Disease Control endorsed Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for people aged 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and otherwise vulnerable Americans.

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Update 2:30 a.m. EDT Sept. 24: The Centers for Disease Control accepted the recommendation of its advisory panel, endorsing the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for people aged 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and otherwise vulnerable Americans, The Associated Press reported.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday, according to the AP.

Although the CDC advisory panel voted against recommending boosters for people ages 18 to 64 who work in health care or have other occupations that increase their risk of COVID-19 exposure, Walensky disagreed and endorsed the recommendation. Her recommendation also includes boosters for people who live in prisons, homeless shelters and other settings that could add to their risk.

Read more here.

Original report: The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously in favor of recommending booster shots for people aged 65 and older and for residents of long-term care facilities. The committee voted 13-2 to recommend booster doses for people aged 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. In a narrow 9-6 vote, the committee also voted to endorse boosters for people aged 18 to 49 who have underlying medical conditions, based on an individual assessment of the benefits and risks of the additional vaccine dose.

The group voted against recommending boosters for people between 18 and 64 years old who are in occupational or institutional settings that put them at increased risk of COVID-19 infection or transmission, based on an individual assessment of benefits and risks. Committee members expressed concerns about the logistics of implementing such a recommendation and confusion likely to follow. They also cited a lack of information to support a third dose.

The recommendations endorsed Thursday call for people in the named groups to get booster shots at least six months after they’ve gotten fully vaccinated.

The votes came after the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday amended the emergency use authorization issued for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to allow for the administration of a booster vaccine dose for people aged 65 and older, and people between 18 and 64 years old who are at high-risk of severe COVID-19 or whose “frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19.”

>> Related: Coronavirus: FDA authorizes Pfizer booster shots for older, at-risk Americans

The amendment came after an influential FDA advisory panel, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, last week declined to recommend booster vaccine shots for most Americans, citing a lack of evidence. The decision was a blow to a plan announced last month by President Joe Biden that would have made people who got the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines eligible for booster shots beginning this month.

>> Related: Coronavirus: Booster shots to be available to fully vaccinated Americans beginning in September

Last month, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended a third dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for some people with weak immune systems after the FDA approved of the additional dose. Data shows moderately and severely immunocompromised people got less protection from the two-dose series of the mRNA vaccines, prompting the recommendation, though enough evidence did not exist at the time to make any recommendations regarding additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

>> Related: Coronavirus: CDC committee recommends additional vaccine dose for immunocompromised people

Nearly 55% of all Americans, or 182.3 million people, have been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday morning, according to the latest data available from the CDC. So far, 64% of the population, or 212.5 million people, have gotten at least one dose of any of the available vaccines, CDC data shows.

Since the start of the pandemic, 42.4 million COVID-19 cases have been identified nationwide, resulting in over 679,000 deaths, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, officials have reported 229.8 million COVID-19 cases, resulting in 5.9 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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