NEWS & ANALYSIS

CDC Chief Breaks with Advisory Panel, Backs Pfizer Booster Shot for At-Risk Workers


The CDC director went against the recommendation of an advisory board in saying that workers who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 should receive a booster shot. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on a conglomerate of recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel, made up of 15 members including pediatricians, infectious-disease doctors and other experts, saying that boosters should be offered to people over the age of 65 as well as those 50 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

However, Walensky sided against the panel’s recommendation in saying that people ages 18 to 64 who work in healthcare or have another job that puts them at higher risk should receive booster shots.

“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,” Walensky said in a statement Thursday. “At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good.”  

Indeed, the panel was hesitant to support a broad recommendation for people, such as healthcare workers, because of their jobs, fearing it would allow pretty much anyone who wanted a booster to get one. 

“It seems uncharacteristically openly ended for the lack of data of need in any of these groups,” Sarah Long, a professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine, said.