A CDC Panel Backs Booster Shots For Older Adults, A Step Toward Making Them Available

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended a third dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older as well as others at a high risk of severe illness.

The committee’s unanimous vote to allow older adults and long-term care residents to receive an extra dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was announced after two days of presentations reviewing scientific evidence on the safety and effectiveness of a third vaccine dose.

The committee, in a 13-2 vote, also recommended that people 50 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions get a third shot.

It also endorsed people ages 18 to 49 who have an underlying medical risk access to another dose. The panel split 9-6 on this point but settled on advising that these people consider their individual benefit and risk, possibly in consultation with a medical provider, before they get a Pfizer booster shot.

In what might’ve been the most contentious deliberation, the committee said people 18 to 65 who work in a job or other setting where they are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19 should not yet be allowed to receive an extra Pfizer dose.

Committee member Dr. Matthew Zahn, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist, expressed concern about the difficulty of implementing such an action. Another member, Institute for Health Research investigator Dr. Matthew Daley, said he was worried that the potential guidance would be “broad enough that it could limit access to other groups.”


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