CDC Director Approves Booster Dose of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Older Adults, At-Risk Workers


This information is provided by national senior living association partner, Argentum.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people 65 years of age and older and residents in long-term care settings, as well as people 50-64 years of age with underlying medical conditions—citing that these groups “should” receive the shot. Additionally, individuals 18-49 with underlying medical conditions and those 18-64 who are at increased risk due to an occupational or institutional setting “may” receive the shot, according to the CDC. All Pfizer booster shots should be administered at least 6 months after the Pfizer primary series of vaccines have been completed. 

Walensky’s approval for boosters for at-risk workers strayed from the recommendations made and voted on (9-6) by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a CDC advisory panel, on Thursday afternoon. Those who voted “no” for at-risk workers signaled a lack of evidence to support that people were at higher risk of severe COVID-19 due to their profession. However, the CDC shared that there is emerging evidence indicating that vaccine effectiveness is waning among health care and other frontline essential workers. Due to this, the CDC recommends that adults at high risk of disease due to their work or workplace get the Pfizer booster based on individual benefits and risks. More data and FAQs from the CDC is attached.

Earlier in the week, the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee met and voted unanimously to recommend Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be given six months after full vaccination for those 65 and older and those at high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. They also informally suggested that health care workers be considered for the booster dose. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine received full FDA approval for those 16 years of age and older on August 23, 2021.

The CDC has shared that “individuals can self-attest (i.e. self-report that they are eligible) and receive a booster shot wherever vaccines are offered. This will help ensure there are not additional barriers to access for these select populations receiving their booster shot.” Additionally, the CDC has indicated it will be reviewing data in the coming weeks to make recommendations regarding booster doses for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Argentum’s Vaccine Task Force is finalizing guidance for members on resources for booster implementation in senior living communities, and that guidance is forthcoming. We are continuing to stress to the administration the importance of continuing to prioritize senior living residents and employees in future decisions and encouraging them to do everything they can to support the resourcing needed for effective and efficient implementation of the additional doses.