Aug 12, 2021 - Health

CDC head warns unauthorized boosters undermine safety monitoring

Rochelle Walensky

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Thursday that Americans getting unauthorized booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine undermine the CDC's safety monitoring of recipients.

Why it matters: With booster shots a near inevitability, many Americans are eager to know when they will be able to get one. Some are now circumventing official CDC guidelines and getting a third shot.

Driving the news: More than 1 million people in the U.S. have received unauthorized booster shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, ABC News reported Tuesday.

The big picture: Many of the unauthorized third doses are "occurring in the context of people who may believe they are merited another shot, may be severely immunocompromised," Walensky said at the White House COVID-19 briefing.

  • "The one thing I want to highlight in the context of this is that it does undermine our ability to monitor safety," she added, urging people to adhere to official CDC guidelines.

At the briefing NIAID director Anthony Fauci reiterated that booster shots are being considered for immunocompromised people, but not for healthy individuals.

  • "The one thing we're doing is preparing for the eventuality of doing that. If the data shows us in fact we do need to do that, we'll be very ready to do it and do it quickly," Fauci said of general booster shots.

Of note: Asked whether private insurances and Medicare are covering the administration fees for the unauthorized boosters, Walensky said officials are "doing an evaluation" of the issue.

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