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Biden tells 60 million Americans to get booster shots after CDC director overruled advisers

President Joe Biden is telling a group of some 60 million Americans who got the Pfizer vaccine and meet other conditions to get booster shots after the CDC director overruled her own advisers to recommend it. 

‘You’re over 65 years of age, go get a booster. Or if you have a medical condition like diabetes, or you’re a frontline worker like a health care worker or a teacher, you can get a free booster now,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House Friday.

Biden made the comment after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky overruled her own agency’s advisory panel in a rare move late Thursday night and added a recommendation for COVID-19 vaccine boosters for people at risk because of their jobs.

The change added millions of additional Americans to the guidance.  

President Joe Biden urged 60 million Americans who got the Pfizer vaccine, primarily those over 65, to get booster shots

The CDC committee voted against recommending use for those are at risk due to an ‘occupational or institutional settings,’ claiming there wasn’t enough data to make such a recommendation.

The decision only applies to those who have received the Pfeizer  vaccine. The FDA has yet to weigh Moderna Inc’s application for boosters and Johnson & Johnson Inc. has not yet filed an application.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said third doses should only be for Americans aged 65 and older and those with underlying conditions after six months. 

Walensky disagreed and put that recommendation back in, noting that such a move aligns with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) booster authorization decision earlier this week. The panel recommended the third dose only for those 65 and over and with certain medical conditions.

The category she included covers people who live in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, as well as healthcare workers, teachers and grocery store employees.   

‘As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,’ Walensky wrote in a statement. 

Biden also pledged to get his own shot as soon as possible.  

‘ll be getting my booster shot,’ he said, then made a joke about his own age. ‘Hard to acknowledge I’m over 65. But I’ll be getting my booster shot. It’s a bear isn’t it? I’ll tell you. But all kidding aside from getting my booster shot. I’m not sure exactly when I’m going to do it. As soon as I can get it,’ said Biden, 78. 

‘Like your first and second shot. The booster shot is free and easily accessible,’ Biden said at the White House.

Biden got his second Pfizer-BioNTech dose in January before taking office. 

Boosters will be available for people 65 and older, people at high risk of severe disease or of contracting COVID-19 through their work, and who were vaccinated six months ago with the Pfizer Inc and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky reversed her own agency's advisory panel in a rare move late Thursday and added a recommendation for boosters for people at risk because of their jobs. Pictured: Walensky speaks during a Senate committee hearing, July 2021

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky reversed her own agency’s advisory panel in a rare move late Thursday and added a recommendation for boosters for people at risk because of their jobs. Pictured: Walensky speaks during a Senate committee hearing, July 2021

Pfizer said data suggested efficacy of two doses declines from 96.2% to 83.7% after six months but that a third dose boosts antibody levels (above)

Pfizer said data suggested efficacy of two doses declines from 96.2% to 83.7% after six months but that a third dose boosts antibody levels (above)

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR COVID-19 BOOSTER SHOTS AND WHEN SHOULD THEY GET THEM?

By Mary Kekatos, Acting U.S. Health Editor for DailyMail.com 

What are COVID-19 vaccine boosters? 

A booster shot is given at least six months after people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

It is meant to prolong immunity and give a ‘boost’ to the immune system to create higher levels of antibodies against the virus.

Is vaccine protection waning? 

Not necessarily, although this topic is hotly debated.

Some people have weakened immune systems, either due to medical conditions or to age, that have left them unable to mount a full immune response to the first doses.

Some studies have found that vaccine protection does decrease after more than four months, which is common with several other immunizations.

However, health officials insist that vaccines are still highly effective against the most severe outcomes from COVID-19, including hospitalization and death.   

Who is currently eligible? 

Last month, boosters were authorized for Americans with compromised immune systems.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded that authorization to specific at-risk groups.

These include people aged 65 and older, long-term care facility residents and people aged 18 to 64 at high risk of severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) advisory committee recommended that boosters not be for people at high risk due to their jobs or other factors, CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky overruled this decision and sided with the FDA.

This means people who are at high-risk of severe illness due to their occupations – such as healthcare workers, teachers and grocery store employees – and those who live in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, are also eligible.

Which COVID-19 vaccine booster can I get?

Right now, only recommended groups who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and were given their final shot at least six months ago, can get booster shots. 

Pfizer’s booster shot is exactly the same – both ingredients-wise and dosage (30 micrograms) – as the first two doses. 

What if I received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Moderna has submitted an application to the FDA asking that its booster shot be authorized while Johnson & Johnson is expected to do so soon.

Because of this, recipients of either of these two vaccines are not eligible to receive boosters yet.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that scientists are still examining data for boosters shots from the two companies.

‘Our doctors and scientists are working day and night to analyze the data from those two organizations on whether and when you need a booster shot, and we’ll provide updates for you as the process moves ahead,’ he said.

Can I mix and match?

Currently, federal health officials do not recommend getting a booster shot made by a different vaccine manufacturer than that of your initial doses.

This means that Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients are not recommended to get a booster dose from Pfizer and vice-versa.  

Biden said 60 million people were now eligible for the third shot, while also reiterating his appeal to the more than 70 million Americans who have not gotten a single shot.

‘Listen to the voices of the unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying… ‘If only I got vaccinated,” Biden said. ‘People are dying and will die who don’t have to die.’

Biden had called for booster shots against the novel coronavirus to begin this week for all people once they were eight months out from vaccination, pending regulators’ approval.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only this week cleared the way for a subset, though they did broaden the time frame for eligibility by two months.

Aurthur Sudduth prepares to receive a COVID-19 booster shot from registered nurse Darlene Klacik at Allegheny General Hospital on Pittsburgh's North Side on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. Biden urged those over 65 and with certain conditions or occupations to get a booster shot

Aurthur Sudduth prepares to receive a COVID-19 booster shot from registered nurse Darlene Klacik at Allegheny General Hospital on Pittsburgh’s North Side on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. Biden urged those over 65 and with certain conditions or occupations to get a booster shot

Biden administration officials have said they would follow the science on additional vaccines and had set the week of Sept. 20 as a goal in order to prepare for more inoculations.

Regulators’ decision applies only to the Pfizer vaccine and those who received it at least six months earlier. The FDA has yet to weigh Moderna Inc’s application for boosters and Johnson & Johnson Inc. has not yet filed an application.

‘We’re also looking to the time when we’re going to be able to expand the booster shots, basically across the board,’ Biden said.

Health experts have cautioned people against mixing various brands of vaccine, citing the lack of data.   

Dr Rochelle Walensky’s decision came after the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) said third doses should only be for Americans aged 65 and older and those with underlying conditions after six months.

Walensky disagreed and put that recommendation back in, noting that such a move aligns with a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) booster authorization decision earlier this week.

The category she included covers people who live in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, as well as healthcare workers, teachers and grocery store employees.

‘As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,’ Walensky wrote in a statement.

‘I believe we can best serve the nation’s public health needs by providing booster doses for the elderly, those in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions, and for adults at high risk of disease from occupational and institutional exposures to COVID-19.

On Thursday afternoon, ACIP voted unanimously to give the shot to people aged 65 and older and long-term care facility residents and 13-2 for Americans between ages 50 and 64 with underlying medical conditions.

Boosters were also recommended for those aged 18 to 49 with pre-existing conditions, but the vote was much closer with the recommendation passing 9-6.

However, the committee voted against recommended use for those are at risk due to an ‘occupational or institutional settings,’ claiming there wasn’t enough data to make such a recommendation.

Until the FDA announced its decision, ACIP was unable to recommend third doses, a necessary step before pharmacists or clinicians can immunize patients.

And it marks the first time that the panel has voted against an FDA authorization regarding COVID-19-related issues.

Although the CDC is not bound to follow the advisory group’s recommendations, this also marks one of the rare instances Walensky has gone against the guidance of ACIP.


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