CDC Authorizes Boosters for All Adults, Highlighting 50-Plus

CDC_Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty

Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's and Moderna's vaccines as booster shots for all adults ages 18 years and up. 

The recommendation comes after a thorough evaluation of both products' effectiveness and safety profiles, presented at the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices last week. The endorsement from CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D. came Friday afternoon, hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amended its emergency use authorization (EUA) for the said age group. 

"Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people's protection against infection and severe outcomes and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays. Based on the compelling evidence, all adults over 18 should now have equitable access to a COVID-19 booster dose," Dr. Walensky said in a statement. 

Prior to the EAU amendment, the FDA authorization for the two mRNA vaccines was for people ages 18 to 64 who were at high risk of severe COVID-19 or were frequently exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and those ages 65 years and older. The recent action now states that all individuals 18 years and older should be given a booster dose six months after completing the primary vaccination series for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or two months after receiving a Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. 

"Authorizing the use of a single booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older helps to provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalization and death," commented Janet Woodcock, M.D., acting FDA commissioner, in a separate statement. 

The CDC's recommendation is similar, recommending a booster shot for those 65 years and older, 18 years and older (and reside in long-term care settings), and those aged 50 to 64 years who have underlying medical conditions. The CDC also urges COVID-19 booster shots for those 18 to 49 years who have underlying medical conditions and those aged 18 to 64 years who are frequently exposed due to their occupation or environment. 

As of this writing, the CDC has recorded over 195 million people as fully vaccinated in the U.S. and more than 31 million have already received a booster dose, of which number around 17 million are above 65 years old. 

News of alignment between the FDA's and the CDC's recommendations reinforce the U.S. government's vaccination implementation plans, which have the primary goal of preventing severe disease. The booster vaccination rollout is also meant to reduce infection and transmission, as well as to maintain workforce and healthcare capacity.

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