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Published: October 7, 2021

COVID-19 Booster Rollout Has Begun

The FDA amended the vaccine’s emergency use authorization to allow a single booster dose six months after completion of the primary series for individuals

  • ages 65 and older,
  • 18-64 at high risk of severe COVID-19, or
  • 18-64 “whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19, including severe COVID-19.”

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Sept. 23 voted to recommend a booster dose in populations at greatest risk for severe complications from COVID-19, including older individuals and younger people with underlying medical conditions. In an uncommon action the following day, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., overruled advisers at the agency to add front-line workers — including health care personnel — to the range of patients for whom the panel had recommended third doses of the vaccine.

Walensky, the CDC announced in a Sept. 24 press release, “endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ 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.” The press release pointed to the FDA’s Aug. 23 full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 and older, and its own guidance, as “important steps forward as we work to stay ahead of the virus and keep Americans safe.”

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