Experts criticize CDC's language on COVID vaccine boosters
While public health experts largely cheered the expansion of U.S. COVID booster recommendations to all adults, the language they used raised some eyebrows.
Driving the news: CDC director Rochelle Walensky on Friday accepted a key advisory committee's recommendation that adults "may" get a booster dose. Those at higher risk for poor COVID outcomes have been told they "should" get another shot.
Why it matters: Some public health experts say that frames boosters as a "luxury" for the general population, rather than a necessity, and could be confusing.
What they're saying: "I can tell you that clinicians notice that language and it matters a lot when it comes to what clinicians are recommending to their patients," Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, told Axios.
- "My concern is that, with the messaging so muddled, the booster dose has somehow been framed as a luxury, as something that would be nice to have but it doesn't really matter if you get it. That is not the case," Wen said.
- "I don't understand the 'should/may' split. That just confuses, everyone over 18 should get the booster, otherwise we won’t get back to normal," tweeted Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine.
By the numbers: About 34.5 million Americans have gotten boosters, up from around 31 million a few days ago, CDC data shows. About 19% of adults and 40% of adults older than 65 have gotten a booster
The other side: "The mandate of ACIP is to determine individual risk/benefit," responded Walid Gellad, a health policy professor at the University of Pittsburgh in defense of the advisory committee.