ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those 65 and older, high-risk individuals 18-64 years old and 18-64 year-olds whose jobs increase their risk for COVID-19 such as front-line workers, according to a news release. The boosters must be given six months after the completion of the primary series, and the authorization only applies to the Pfizer vaccine.
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended boosters for those 65 and older and high-risk individuals but did not endorse the portion of the FDA authorization that allows boosters for front-line workers, reports the New York Times. However, early Friday, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky overruled the panel and aligned CDC policy fully with the FDA’s authorization.
“After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.
According to agency insiders, the CDC director’s endorsement of the advisory committee’s recommendations is typically a formality, and going against the advisors undermines the process and ruffles the feathers of her staff, reported the New York Times.
On Sept. 9, President Joe Biden announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors, plus companies with more than 100 employees as part of a White House action plan to address the latest rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States. The following week, the president met held a meeting with top executives to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, including Disney, Microsoft, Columbia Sportswear and Walgreens Boots Alliance.
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