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Rochelle Walensky listens during a confirmation hearing on July 20. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky on Friday reiterated her decision to go against a recommendation by a CDC advisory panel that refused to endorse booster shots for workers whose jobs put them at high risk for contracting COVID-19.

Driving the news: "Our healthcare systems are once again at maximum capacity in parts of the country, our teachers are facing uncertainty as they walk into the classroom," Walensky said at a Friday briefing. "I must do what I can to preserve the health across our nation."

  • In an unusual move, Walensky on Thursday went against the CDC advisory panel recommendation, and endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for workers in high-risk jobs.

What she's saying: "It's my job to recognize where out actions can have the greatest impact. In a pandemic we most often take steps with the intention to do the greatest good, even in an uncertain environment, and that is what I'm doing with these recommendations."

  • "Had I been in the room and on the committee, I would have voted yes, and that is reflected in my resulting decision to allow the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster dose for those 18 and older at high risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational and institutional exposure," Walensky said.

Between the lines: Walensky said on Friday that she did not "overrule" the advisory committee, adding that she "intently listened to this exceptional group of scientists that publicly and very transparently deliberated for hours over some of these very difficult questions."

The big picture: The CDC on Thursday also recommended Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people 65 years old and older and those individuals at high risk of severe COVID-19.

  • The CDC approval is a near-final step in making the booster shots available to millions of Americans, and comes one day after the FDA approved Pfizer boosters for the two groups.

What to watch: The FDA is working with Moderna and J&J to obtain and receive data, "with a goal of making booster recommendations for the Moderna and J&J recipients in the coming weeks," White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said.

Go deeper: CDC director approves Pfizer boosters, adds eligibility for high-risk workers

Go deeper

Oct 20, 2021 - Health

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5–11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11, pending authorization from the FDA of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, and tens of thousands of pharmacies to administer the shots.

Oct 23, 2021 - Health

Benefits of COVID vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says

A nurse gives a girl a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lyman High School in Longwood on the day before classes begin for the 2021-22 school year. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Food and Drug Administration regulators said Friday that the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children far outweigh the risks for children ages 5 to 11.

Why it matters: The announcement could add momentum to the FDA's authorization of doses for children on an emergency basis, which could happen as early as next week, according to the New York Times.

Oct 22, 2021 - Health

Illinois mandates daycare workers to receive COVID vaccine or weekly testing

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a round table discussion with high school students in October 2018. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Friday that all daycare workers in the state will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or or submit to weekly testing.

Driving the news: Pritzker said he was issuing the requirement to protect "babies, toddlers, and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine."