2021-09-24 08:40:23 C.D.C. Chief C.D.C. Chief Overrules Agency Panel and Endorses Pfizer Boosters for Frontline Workers
C.D.C. Chief C.D.C. Chief Overrules Agency Panel and Endorses Pfizer Boosters for Frontline Workers
The C.D.C. panel’s recommendation came after weeks of internal conflict and public debate among American health officials and advisers. President Biden announced plans for a booster rollout in mid-August, but scientists and regulators were quick to point out that little research had been done on who might benefit and how the doses should be distributed.
Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, stated on Wednesday that the agency’s authorization would allow for booster doses “in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers, and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others.”
However, some committee members said there was little evidence to suggest that vaccinated teachers, or even health care workers, were at risk of repeated virus exposure. Fears that such a broad recommendation would effectively open the door to an all-adults booster campaign prompted the decision.
“My sense was that the committee felt that was sort of a hole that you could drive a truck through,” Dr. Paul Offit, a University of Pennsylvania professor and member of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel, told reporters during an online briefing on Thursday.
The panel debated the public’s expectations for Covid vaccines, the safety of third doses, and how a booster program would affect nursing home residents over the course of two days. Booster doses alone would not stop the pandemic, according to some scientists; only vaccinating the unvaccinated would do so.
“By giving people a booster dose, we may be able to move the needle a little bit,” said Dr. Helen Talbot, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University. However, she added, “the hospitals are overcrowded because people aren’t vaccinated.”
The advisers also struggled with a lack of clarity about the vaccines’ goal: should it be to prevent all infections or to prevent severe illness and hospitalization?