CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention on Friday endorsed boosters of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for long-term care residents and others 65 and older, healthcare workers and those with underlying medical conditions that could put them at risk.

The agency said the shots could begin six months after a person received the last of two Pfizer injections. Because many long-term care residents were the first to receive the initial vaccinations in December 2020, vaccination clinics in assisted living communities and nursing homes, as well as other vaccination efforts, can begin immediately.

The decision by CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., aligns with recommendations made last week by the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and with the emergency use authorization amendment made by the FDA on Wednesday. It departs slightly from a recommendation made yesterday by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, however, because that committee did not endorse boosters for people aged 18 to 64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their occupational or institutional setting, such as healthcare workers.

“I believe we can best serve the nation’s public health needs by providing booster doses for the elderly, those in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions, and for adults at high risk of disease from occupational and institutional exposures to COVID-19,”  Walensky said in a statement. “This aligns with the FDA’s booster authorization and makes these groups eligible for a booster shot.”

The CDC recommendation only applies to those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, due to the availability of data, Walensky said. “We will address, with the same sense of urgency, recommendations for the Moderna and J&J vaccines as soon as those data are available,” she said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.