CDC advisers back booster shots for ages 65 and older

CDC advisory panel recommends booster shot of Pfizer vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older and some adults with underlying medical conditions.

Ben Ariel ,

COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel on Thursday recommended a booster shot of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older and some adults with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk of severe disease, Reuters reports.

The panel, by a vote of 9-6, declined to recommend boosters for adults ages 18 to 64 who live or work in institutions with high risk of contracting COVID-19, based on individual risk, such as healthcare workers, teachers and residents of homeless shelters and prisons.

The guidelines voted on by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices still need to be signed off on by agency Director Rochelle Walensky. The recommendations are not binding, and states and other jurisdictions could disregard them and use other approaches to administering the booster shots.

The CDC vote came a day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Americans aged 65 and older, younger adults with underlying health conditions and those in jobs that put them at high risk for COVID-19.

The FDA decision Wednesday came after the agency’s panel of advisers last week rejected booster shots to all people over the age of 16, and instead recommended boosters only for those most vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19.

The CDC said on Thursday that some 26 million people in the United States received the second Pfizer/BioNTech shot at least six months ago, including 13 million age 65 or older.

The two-shot Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine received full FDA approval in August, also for those ages 16 and older.

Israel is already administering third doses of the vaccines. Britain began offering booster vaccines against COVID-19 this month, and Germany also announced it will do so.

The World Health Organization has criticized the booster campaigns, arguing that the vaccines should be reserved for poorer countries where many people have not yet even received one dose of a COVID vaccine.