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CDC recommends Pfizer COVID-19 booster to certain people

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 7:10 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the use of the Pfizer booster for certain high-risk groups of people.

Following the FDA’s approval, the CDC’s endorsement now allows boosters to be administered.

People who are eligible for a booster dose at least six months after their initial Pfizer shots include:

  • People aged 65 and older
  • ages 50-64 years with underlying medical conditions
  • People aged 18 through 64 considered to be at high risk of severe COVID-19 infection, like people who have underlying health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or autoimmune diseases
  • People aged 18 through 64 who work in places of high potential exposure, such as healthcare facilities, schools and day cares, and grocery stores

The recommendation for specific groups comes after discussion between the FDA, the CDC, and several advisory panels and committees.

The timeline of the decision process followed the arrival of real-time data on the effectiveness of the vaccine over time.

“It’s just like with everything else with this pandemic. It’s evolving quickly, but in real-time, so we have to follow the science and data.”

Here’s how the decisions unfolded:

  • August 12: FDA approves the use of Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for high-risk patients.
  • August 13: CDC Director gives final approval to start giving boosters out
  • August 18: CDC, FDA, and President Biden announced readiness to roll out booster shots during the week of September 20 (a later vote by the FDA delayed the rollout)
  • September 22: FDA authorizes booster doses of the Pfizer brand for certain high-risk people
  • September 23: a CDC advisory panel supports the FDA’s authorization.
  • September 24: CDC Director endorses the guidance, also including the group of workers in high-risk places. SCDHEC supports the guidance.

It may seem like there has been a lot of back-and-forth among experts in their decision-making process, but Dr. Traxler says it’s because we’ve been watching this scientific process play out publicly.

“I think that not being right on target with timelines is a good example of that,” said Traxler. “That our career scientists, who have no political affiliation or connection whatsoever, really did take their time and do it on their timeline based on the data.”

For Moderna and Johnson & Johnson brand vaccines, Traxler says there may be discussions of boosters in the future, but, we must keep in mind that the Pfizer brand was made available to the public before any other brand, so the timeline of booster authorization makes sense.

“And that is just a matter of timing and when trials for certain things were started, and data accumulation, and review and analysis. So, while I doubt we’ll see anything tremendously different with Moderna, you never know.”

If you believe you’re considered high risk and may benefit from a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine, health experts say you should talk to your healthcare provider about which time would be most effective for you to get the booster.

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