WASHINGTON — The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday she recognizes there’s some confusion now in the United States about who should get a COVID-19 vaccine booster.
For starters, the just-approved booster is intended for people originally vaccinated with shots made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.
Last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky sided with most of the recommendations from CDC advisers on giving boosters six months after the last Pfizer dose for certain groups of people.
That includes people 65 and older, nursing home residents and people ages 50 to 64 with chronic health problems such as diabetes.
People 18 and older with health problems can decide for themselves if they want a booster.
But Walensky also overrode advisers’ objections and said people at increased risk of infection because of their jobs or their living conditions could qualify for a booster now. That includes health care workers, teachers and people in jails or homeless shelters.
“I recognize that confusion right now,” Walensky told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“We are evaluating this science in real time,” she said. “We are meeting every several weeks now to evaluate the science. The science may very well show that the rest of the population needs to be boosted and we will provide those guidances as soon as we have the science to inform them.”
People who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are waiting to hear when they might be eligible for a booster.
Vaccines for children
Pfizer’s CEO says “it’s a question of days, not weeks” before the company and German partner BioNTech submit data to U.S. regulators for federal authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5 to 11. That would be an important step toward starting vaccinations for those youngsters, especially with kids now back in school and the delta variant resulting in a big jump in pediatric infections.
Pfizer said last week that its vaccine works for that age group and that it tested a much lower dose of the vaccine that’s already available for anyone 12 and older. The company said that after children age 5 to 11 got their second dose during testing, they developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults getting the regular-strength shots
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Sunday that if the Food and Drug Administration approves the company’s application, “we will be ready with our manufacturing to provide this new formulation of the vaccine.”
And when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, he told ABC’s “This Week” that within a year, “I think we will be able to come back to normal life. I don’t think that this means that variants will not be continuing coming. And I don’t think that this means that we should be able to live our lives … without having vaccinations, basically.”
Bourla also said “we will have vaccines that … will last at least a year’’ and that “the most likely scenario, it is annual revaccinations.”
Not so fast in New York
New York City schools have been temporarily blocked from enforcing a vaccine mandate for its teachers and other workers by a federal appeals judge days before it was to take effect.
The mandate for the the nation’s largest school system was set to go into effect Monday.
But late Friday, a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction and referred the case to a three-judge panel an an expedited basis.
Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson said officials are seeking a speedy resolution by the circuit court.