CDC sign

A vaccine advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted unanimously Thursday to recommend booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adults aged 65 or more years as well as those living in long-term care facilities, but it voted against recommending boosters for healthcare workers.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 9-6 against recommending the booster shots for individuals aged 18 to 64 years who are in an occupational or institutional setting that places them at higher risk for COVID-19 infection and risk of transmission.

In earlier votes Thursday, the ACIP panel voted overwhelmingly (13-2) to recommend booster doses for individuals aged 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. The committee also narrowly approved (9-6) a booster dose for individuals aged 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions.

The vote comes one day after the Food and Drug Administration amended its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, to allow for use of a single booster dose to be administered six months after the last dose, for those 65 and older, those aged 18 to 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,” and for others aged 18 to 64 at high risk of severe COVID-19.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee last week unanimously approved the emergency use authorization application from Pfizer–BioNTech for a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine for older adults and individuals at high risk for severe disease, including healthcare workers. The group voted against recommending the booster doses for the general public.

Once CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., MPH, signs off on the ACIP recommendations, booster shots may begin being offered immediately to the approved groups. The recommendations are not binding.