'We will not boost our way out of this pandemic,' CDC director says as 70 million Americans remain unvaccinated

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Three-quarters of eligible Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and some are now able to receive an additional booster shot. But the virus still poses a great threat to more than 70 million people who remain unvaccinated.
(CNN)

"The most vulnerable are those unvaccinated," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC on Friday approved a third shot of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine to an expanded group of Americans.

"Starting today, if you are six months out from your last dose of the Pfizer vaccine, you are eligible for a booster if you fall into one of three high-risk groups," US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said during a briefing.

"Number one: You are 65 or older. Number two: You have a medical condition that puts you at high risk of severe illness with Covid and these conditions include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease and others. And Number three: You work or live in a setting where you are at high risk of exposure to Covid. This includes health care workers, teachers, those living in shelters or prisons and grocery store workers," Murthy said.

Walensky acknowledged that even with more Americans becoming eligible, the country must ramp up initial vaccination numbers for the pandemic to subside.

"I want to be clear: We will not boost our way out of this pandemic," she said Friday.

The US has fully vaccinated more than 55% of all residents as of Friday, CDC data shows, while 75% of the vaccine-eligible received at least one dose of inoculation.

recent CNN analysis showed the average rate of Covid-19 deaths in the 10 least vaccinated states was more than four times higher over the past week than the rate in the 10 most vaccinated states.

CDC vaccine advisers had recommended that booster shots should be made eligible for people over 65 and those with health risks -- stopping short of expanding that threshold to include those who may be disproportionally exposed to the virus at their jobs. But Walensky moved to account for the occupational exposure group in her guidance.

"Some people…
Aya Elamroussi, CNN
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