CDC recommends COVID-19 booster shot


COVID-19 booster shots have started to be given out around the El Paso area for people 65 and older and people with underlying health conditions. Graphic by: Hugo Hinojosa

Julia Lucero, Contributor

Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky overruled CDC Advisory Committee On Immunization Practices (ACIP) panel and recommends COVID-19 booster for people that are at a high risk due to their occupation.  

The CDC recommends that vaccinated individuals 18 to 64 –years old who are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their occupational or institutional setting should receive their booster shot, according to a CDC statement on ACIP booster recommendations.  

“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,” Walensky said “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.” 

In an ACIP panel meeting Sept. 23, the majority voted against recommending this group of individuals for a booster shot.  

“I don’t think it’s going to address the issue of the pandemic, I really think it’s just going to create more confusion on the provider and the physician implantation level,” said ACIP member Jason Goldman, M.D. “And I really think it’s going really far field of the data and what we are trying to accomplish from a public health perspective.” 

Other ACIP members were on board with recommending these individuals get the booster.  

“Having the ability, the option to give the health care workers the third dose, not mandating it but giving that option, helps us maintain our staffing,” Helen Keipp Talbot, M.D., ACIP member said in that release.  

The FDA amended emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals at a higher risk Sept. 22, such as people 64–years old and older, immunocompromised individuals 18 to 64-years-old, and those 18 to 64-years-old at higher risk due to their frequent occupational and institutional risk.  

“After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others,” acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D, said.  

President Biden encourages individuals of high risk that have received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to get the booster.  

“So my message today is this, if you’ve got the Pfizer vaccine in January, February, or March of this year and you’re over 65 years of age, go get the booster. Or if you have a medical condition like diabetes, or you’re a frontline worker, like a healthcare worker or teacher, you can get a free booster now,” Biden said in a press briefing on Sept. 24. 

Biden stated that 80,000 locations in the United States will be providing booster shots, including 40,000 pharmacies nationwide.  

In El Paso, individuals that meet CDC booster guidelines may receive their third dose at CVS and Walgreens.  

“And like your first and second shot, the booster shot is free and easily accessible,” Biden said.  

People that have received Moderna and Johnson&Johnson vaccines are recommended to wait on third doses as the CDC is still analyzing data on how to proceed with these individuals.  

“Today, ACIP only reviewed data for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. We will address, with the same sense of urgency, recommendations for the Moderna and J&J vaccines as soon as those data are available,” Walensky said.  

With flu season rolling around, people are recommended to vaccinate for that virus as well.  

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President Anthony Fauci, M.D., addressed concerns on receiving both COVID-19 vaccine/booster and the flu vaccine in an interview with CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer.  

“What you should do is get it as soon as you can and in the most expeditious manner,” Fauci said.”If that means going in and the flu shot in one arm the COVID shot in the other that’s perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, that might make it more convenient and make it more likely that you would actually go get both of them if you could do it conveniently in one visit. So whatever it takes to get both of them go ahead and do it. If it’s one visit it’s perfectly fine.” 

To schedule your COVID-19 booster shot, visit the Walgreens or CVS website.  

Julia Lucero may be reached at [email protected]