CDC Chief Overrules Panel, OKs Boosters for Healthcare Workers
5 min read
In an unusual move the CDC director overruled recommendations from the agency's advisory panel, adding healthcare workers to those on the booster list.
Sepbember 24, 2021 — Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the CDC director's decision to add healthcare workers to the boosters list.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices earlier Thursday voted to allow several groups of Americans to get a booster shot, but voted not to recommend it for adults aged 18 to 64 who live or work in a place where the risk for COVID-19 is high. That would have included healthcare workers and other frontline employees.

But CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, decided to reverse that recommendation and include the 18- to 64-year-olds in her final decision.

"As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact," Walensky said in a statement after midnight Thursday. "At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good."

Walensky agreed with the rest of the advisory committees decisions, which included recommendations that the following groups also be eligible for a booster shot:

Adults ages 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities

Adults ages 50 to 64 who have an underlying medical condition that may increase their risk from a COVID infection

Adults ages 18 to 49 who may be at increased risk from a COVID-19 infection because of an underlying medical condition, if that person feels like they need one based on a consideration of their individual benefit and risks.

About 26 million Americans are at least 6 months past the last dose of the Pfizer vaccines, making them eligible to receive a third dose. About 13.6 million of them are over the age of 65. Another 5.3 million are ages 50-64.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices considered, but narrowly rejected, boosters for a fourth group — adults ages 18 to 64 who live or work in a place where the burden of COVID-19 and…
Brenda Goodman
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