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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.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

DeSantis to convene state legislature to fight COVID vaccine mandates

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he will convene a special session of the state legislature to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates enacted by businesses and "provide protections for employees."

Why it matters: This is the Republican governor's latest move to penalize local entities that implement mask or vaccine mandates to contain the spread of the virus.

Oct 21, 2021 - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing a face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% have received at least one dose.