COVID vaccine in hands of caregiver

Healthcare workers could be in line to get boosters of the COVID-19 vaccine if the Food and Drug Administration follows the recommendation of an FDA advisory panel. 

Late Friday, the panel unanimously approved boosters of the Pfizer vaccine for people over the age of 65 and anyone over the age of 16 at risk of developing severe COVID-19. In a separate poll — not a vote — of the 18-member panel, the group recommended the at-risk group include healthcare workers and others at high risk for occupational exposure to the virus. 

The panel earlier voted against boosters for anyone over the age of 16, citing a lack of data and evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of an extra shot. That decision dealt a blow to the Biden administration, which was pushing hard for boosters for the general population as the virus’s delta variant continues to infect millions of Americans. It also runs counter to a recommendation by Anthony Fauci, M.D., National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director and the president’s chief medical advisor.

The World Health Organization has called for a two-month pause on booster shots, citing the need to prioritize less-wealthy nations for vaccinations first. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 54% of Americans are now currently vaccinated; nearly 83% of those 65 and older are fully vaccinated. Efforts are still underway to get people who haven’t received their first shots to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.

Nashville-based Insurer Clover Health is partnering with medical logistics firm MedArrive to provide in-home vaccinations to seniors in New Jersey. Clover Health Associate Chief Medical Officer Kumar Dharmarajan, M.D., told McKnight’s Home Care Daily boosters add a new wrinkle to the company’s vaccination program, but the company is prepared to accommodate the additional doses.

“We do believe in the guidance that there are some people in particular who are at high risk — immunocompromised, active cancer — who should get those booster shots. We are waiting for guidance on how broad that group should be,” Dharmarajan said.

The FDA’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices now could offer tweaks to the panel’s recommendations before the booster program goes into effect.

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