States approve boosters for all adults despite Federal recommendations

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM News


Multiple states have approved Covid-19 booster shots for all adults, despite the recommendations issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). On Monday, Arkansas joined California, Colorado, and New Mexico in expanding vaccination booster eligibility beyond the national level.

In August, President Joe Biden announced his plan to grant access to all adults for booster shots to prevent waning COVID-19 immunity in the vaccinated population. This plan was always contingent on joint approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While these organizations did approve booster shots for all three U.S. approved Covid-19 vaccination varieties, they restricted this approval to at-risk groups, like the immunocompromised and frontline workers with an increased chance of exposure.

On Monday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced an expansion from CDC’s approved booster guidelines to include all eligible adults. Hutchinson said, “We are seeing a need for making the booster shot more available.”

He called the existing guidelines “somewhat confusing.” He added, “I think it will eliminate some of the confusion and encourage everyone across the board” to get their booster shots.

Arkansas is now the fourth state to overrule the Federal advisement on booster shots. The FDA and CDC originally restricted the eligibility due to concerns of an increased risk for myocarditis, or heart inflammation, in men aged 18 to 29 after receiving this dose.

On Nov. 9, California also expanded eligibility to all individuals when Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón wrote a letter to local health officials and providers urging them to “allow patients to self-determine their risk of exposure.”

Aragón also wrote that adult patients should not be turned away if they are “requesting a booster” and were at least 6 months out from a Moderna or Pfizer vaccination or at least 2 months had expired since their last Johnson & Johnson.

Governor Jared Polis of Colorado signed an executive order on Thursday, while New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham expanded his state’s booster eligibility on Friday. Colorado, New Mexico, and California are currently considered in the “high” tier for transmission of the disease, according to the CDC.

Grisham stated in the press release announcing the executive order, “As we have throughout this unpredictable and unprecedented global pandemic, we always stand ready to quickly implement new tools and policies in our fight against this terrible disease. I strongly encourage every New Mexican to register for a booster today – we have appointments available and are ready to get shots in arms.” 

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said during Friday’s briefing that Biden’s administration urges U.S. health leaders “to abide by public health guidelines coming from the federal government.”

Pfizer and Moderna have also recently filed for FDA approval to expand booster eligibility to all adults. Their cases have yet to be heard.