CDC panel approves third dose of Pfizer for millions of people

CDC panel approves third dose of Pfizer for millions of people

Lisa Wilson receives an injection of the Pfizer vaccine at a mobile COVID-19 vaccination site in Orlando, Florida.

Paul Hennessy | SOPA Pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images

A leading advisory group from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Thursday to recommend the distribution of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 booster injections to older Americans, nursing home residents and other vulnerable Americans, urging the agency immediately The way to give the final OK has been cleared. Evening.

The agency’s advisory committee on immunization practices unanimously approved the granting of people 65 years of age and older and nursing home residents of Pfizer’s third move in the first four votes. The panel also recommended a third injection for adults aged 18 to 64 with underlying conditions.

The panel will also vote on whether to recommend vaccines for adults who are frequently exposed to the virus – possibly including people in nursing homes and prisons, teachers, frontline health workers and others. other essential workers.

The elderly were among the first groups to receive the first injections in December and January.

The vote is primarily seen as a victory for President Joe Biden, whose administration said earlier this week it wanted to give a boost to all eligible Americans 16 and over. While the CDC panel’s recommendation doesn’t give the Biden administration everything it wanted, boosters for millions of Americans will still be on the way.

The support comes a day after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to give third injections of Pfizer to many Americans six months after completing their first two doses. While the CDC panel’s recommendation is not binding, director Dr Rochelle Valensky is expected to accept panel support soon.

Valensky addressed the committee Thursday before the vote, thanking them for their work and explaining what was at stake.

“This data is not accurate, but collectively it forms a picture for us, and it is with us right now in making decisions on the next steps in this pandemic,” she said.

Ahead of the vote, some members of the committee said they were concerned that a wide offer of boosters could interfere with efforts to get vaccinated without vaccines or potentially reduce confidence in the effectiveness of vaccines. Others were disappointed that only Pfizer beneficiaries were eligible to receive the vaccines, except for the millions of Americans who had received vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The vote came at the end of a two-day meeting, during which CDC advisers heard a number of presentations on the data aimed at supporting a wider distribution of the booster injections, including a presentation by ‘an executive from Pfizer who demonstrated data showing that the third injection was safe. seems to be. and increase antibody levels in recipients.

In a presentation Thursday, CDC officer Dr Sarah Oliver presented observational studies of Israel, where authorities began vaccinating the country’s population earlier than in many other countries and have offered its citizens a third injection at the end of July. begin.

The Israeli data has been criticized by at least one FDA official because so-called observational studies do not follow the same standards as formal clinical trials.

“We can use Israel’s experience to inform our knowledge of the safety of recalls,” said Oliver, adding that the country only has one of nearly three million third doses of rare inflammatory heart disease. called myocarditis. The case has been registered.

Dr. Kathleen Dooling, head of the CDC, said the data also suggests that the third dose may reduce the risk of serious illness in the elderly and those with co-morbidities. Potential risks include myocarditis, although this risk is very rare, occurring mainly in men under the age of 30, she said.

“The third dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine has the same responsiveness as the second dose,” he said.

The question of who should get the recall and when has been a controversial topic in the scientific community since the Biden administration presented its plan for large-scale distribution of the recall last month.

In an article published last week ahead of an FDA advisory meeting, a panel of leading scientists said available data suggests vaccine protection against serious illness persists, even with efficacy against mild illnesses over time. time. decreases with. The authors, including two senior FDA officials and several scientists from the World Health Organization, argued in the medical journal The Lancet that wide dissemination of booster injections to the general public is not appropriate for the moment.

Outlining plans last month to begin booster distribution earlier this week, officials in the Biden administration cited three CDC studies that showed the safety of Covid vaccines had declined over several months. Senior health officials have said that while they are concerned about protection from serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths could “reduce” in the coming months, especially among those at high risk or those at high risk. early stages of a vaccination rollout. have been vaccinated for

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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