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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A key panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people 65 years old and older, as well as those at high risk of severe COVID-19.

Driving the news: But in an unusual move, CDC director Rochelle Walensky late Thursday overruled part of the advisory committee's decision and said that workers in high-risk jobs should also be eligible for booster shots.

Why it matters: The approval was a near-final step in making the booster shots available to tens of millions of Americans, and comes a day after the FDA approved Pfizer boosters for the two groups.

  • An FDA panel had also approved boosters for people ages 18 to 64 "whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure" puts them at high risk for contracting the virus. The CDC panel, however, voted down this recommendation.

The big picture: The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel was tasked with determining who should get a third dose, such as which jobs qualify as high risk, per the New York Times.

What they're saying: "Like you, I am approaching this decision with an interest in doing what is right for public health," CDC director Rochelle Walensky told the panel ahead of deliberations, per the Washington Post.

  • "Collectively, we want to do what is right for the millions of Americans over the age of 65 or in long-term care facilities who are at high risk for severe complications of COVID-19," she added.

President Biden in a speech Friday encouraged those eligible to get their booster shot as soon as possible, though he stressed that ineligible Americans who have been vaccinated are still protected against the virus.

  • More broadly, he said unvaccinated Americans need to get their first doses to help curb the pandemic.

State of play: The White House had hoped to begin administering boosters to many Pfizer recipients, including young Americans, on Sept. 20.

  • This week, the FDA advisory panel voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new information throughout.

Go deeper

Oct 22, 2021 - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

How one local leader is pushing for COVID boosters

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

At the Triangle View Apartments on B Street SE, Beatrice Evans, 68, is helping her neighbors get their shots.

On Oct. 27, Evans, the building’s tenant association president, is organizing a vaccine clinic to offer COVID-19 booster shots to the residents, largely Black seniors.

Why it matters: 49 of the 50 D.C. residents who since June have died of COVID-19 were Black, according to an analysis of DC Health data first reported by DCist.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

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