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Photo: Paul Bersebach, MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Health care workers, teachers and day care workers are stuck in the crossfire between two government agencies that can't decide whether people with jobs that put them at high risk of COVID-19 exposure should get booster shots.

The big picture: Public health officials are divided on whether booster shots are necessary or ethical, and who should get them. While they duke it out, the public is likely to become increasingly confused.

Driving the news: A CDC advisory board recommended booster shots yesterday for Pfizer recipients 65 and older and those at risk of severe infections, but not people whose occupations put them at risk of exposure.

  • That's a public clash with the FDA, which earlier this week authorized a third shot for all three groups.

But CDC director Rochelle Walensky said late Thursday that workers in high-risk jobs should also be eligible for booster shots, in a rare break with the advisory committee.

Between the lines: Whether health care workers need extra protection against the virus right now is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unanswered booster questions.

  • Health officials are only considering a third shot of Pfizer. So far, there's no new guidance for people who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson's vaccines.

What they're saying: Eric Topol, executive vice president of Scripps Research, tweeted out a timeline of shifting federal booster guidance.

  • The caption: "You'd have to work really hard to mess this up this badly and engender this much confusion."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new information on CDC director Rochelle Walensky's decision.

Go deeper

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

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.

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.