Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation Thursday in support of Pfizer booster shots for millions of Americans as the U.S. continues its fight against COVID-19.
The CDC advisors unanimously supported the Pfizer booster shot for adults over the age of 65 and for residents of long-term care facilities. About 13 of the 15 advisers also supported shots for people ages 50 to 64 with medical conditions that leave them at risk of catching severe COVID-19 disease.
The panel was more divided about what other populations should receive a shot, but ultimately decided to offer the booster option to people ages 18 to 49 who have chronic health problems and want a booster. The panel acknowledged that at this point, there is little evidence that shows vaccine immunity is waning among younger generations, according to The Associated Press.
Thursday’s recommendation from the CDC advisors came just one day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer booster shots for people over 65 and those at high risk for severe illness. This included people who were at severe risk of contracting COVID-19 from their workplaces, such as grocery store employees, healthcare workers and teachers.
The CDC advisors, however, excluded populations at high risk for contracting COVID-19 from their jobs from their recommendation on Thursday.
Americans who meet the age requirements and/or have chronic health conditions will only qualify for the booster shot if they have already received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and are six months out from their second shot.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, is expected to endorse the recommendations soon, and people meeting the criteria could begin getting boosters immediately afterward.
Advisers to the CDC said Thursday that getting more of the population to get their first shots remains a top priority. According to the CDC, only about 55% of Americans are fully vaccinated at this time.
“We can give boosters to people, but that’s not really the answer to this pandemic,” Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot of Vanderbilt University said Thursday. “Hospitals are full because people are not vaccinated. We are declining care to people who deserve care because we are full of unvaccinated COVID-positive patients.”
The mission to get more of the population vaccinated remains ongoing across the nation and locally in Santa Barbara County.
According to the latest data from the county Public Health Department, 76.1% of eligible 12 and older residents are partially vaccinated, and 67.8% of that same population is fully vaccinated. Of the entire county population, 57.4% of people are fully vaccinated.
On Thursday, the department reported 51 new cases of COVID-19, which brings the county’s active case total to 429 infections. Officials reported 19 cases in Santa Maria, seven cases in Santa Barbara, four cases in South Coast unincorporated areas and Carpinteria, four cases in the Santa Ynez Valley, three cases in Isla Vista, three cases in North County unincorporated areas and Guadalupe, three cases in Lompoc, two cases in Goleta, and once case in the unincorporated Goleta Valley and Gaviota. Five cases were pending a geographic assignment.