September 24, 2021
Today, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., MPH, endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in certain populations and also recommended a booster dose for those in high risk occupational and institutional settings, including health care.
This action followed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amending the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for use of a single booster dose, to be administered at least six months after completion of the primary series for individuals age 65 and older, individuals 18-64 years old who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 or whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
The Western States Safety Review Workgroup—a group convened by California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington—reviewed the federal process and confirmed to the governors of the member states its alignment with the CDC recommendations. Because unvaccinated individuals remain at much higher risk of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals, the workgroup also reiterated that its members strongly support vaccination against COVID-19 for everyone 12 years of age or older.
These actions now allow millions of Americans who are at highest risk for COVID-19 to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot to help increase their protection.
CDC is now recommending that:
- people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
- people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series,
- people aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks, and
- people aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.
Many of the people who are now eligible to receive a booster shot received their initial vaccine early in the vaccination program and will benefit from additional protection. With the Delta variant’s dominance as the circulating strain and cases of COVID-19 increasing significantly across the United States, a booster shot will help strengthen protection against severe disease in those populations who are at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19 or the complications from severe disease.
CDC will also be evaluating available data in the coming weeks to swiftly make additional recommendations on booster shots for other populations or people who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
In preparation for these actions and eventual approval for vaccination of youth under 12, the California Department of Public Health yesterday released the COVID-19 Vaccine Action Plan. The state’s priorities as articulated in the plan are:
1) Vaccinating those that are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated while closing the equity gaps;
2) Ensuring enough capacity to administer booster shots; and
3) Vaccinate children under age 12 as they become eligible.