CDC Director overrules advisory committee to expand booster vaccination eligility

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM NEWS



CDC Director Rochelle Walensky overruled her own advisory committee to approve Pfizer boosters for a greater portion of the population. These booster vaccinations went into effect immediately.

“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact. At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health,” Walensky stated.

Walensky overruled her committee late Thursday to recommend booster shots for those who are frontline workers, alinging herself instead with the FDA’s advisory committee. This recommendation makes teachers, hospital workers, and those working with elderly, among others, eligible for a booster shot. The CDC committee rejected this approval 9-6 vote making Walensky’s decision to move forward with the recommendation noteworthy. 

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

She later told reporters during a White House Briefing, “Many of our frontline workers, essential workers, and those in congregate settings, come from communities that have already been hardest hit,” adding “This was a scientific close call. In that situation, it was my call to make”.

While the CDC advisory panel approved Pfizer boosters for at-risk individuals with underlying medical conditions from the ages of 18 to 64, they disagreed with the FDA’s recommendation to expand the boosters to front-line workers. 

With the CDC’s final decision, booster vaccinations have officially begun in the United States. Individuals in an eligible category who have had six or more months expire since their last Pfizer vaccination can now get a booster.

In a White House briefing, President Joe Biden said, “I’m getting my booster shot. I’m not sure exactly when I’m going to do it – as soon as I can get it done.”

While Biden originally desired for boosters shots to be approved for the general population, this decision would need to be a collaborative decision between the FDA and CDC. These organizations have not yet reached a decision on the other two COVID-19 vaccinations that are produced by Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.

These decisions are expected to be announced within the next few weeks to also include boosters.

In addition to expanding boosters to include the vaccines produced by Johnson and Johnson and Moderna, Biden stated “we’re also looking to the time when we’re going to be able to expand the booster shots basically across the board.”