C.D.C. Director Defends Boosters for Frontline Workers

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C.D.C. Director Defends Boosters for Frontline Workers

Despite an agency advisory panel’s refusal to endorse booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for frontline workers, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said she recommended the shots to protect communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

In an effort to protect those at greatest risk, our initial vaccine rollout prioritized these individuals, the everyday heroes of our society. Our health care systems are, once again, at maximum capacity in parts of the country. Our teachers are facing uncertainty as they walk into the classroom, and I must do what I can to preserve the health across our nation. I’m also aware of the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on racial and ethnic minority communities. Many of our frontline workers, essential workers and those in congregate settings come from communities that have already been hardest hit. Withholding access for boosters from these people and communities would only worsen the inequities that I have committed to fight against. It was a decision about providing rather than withholding access. I, too, thought of the stressors of the current moment of this pandemic and the principles of access and equity in my decision. I want to be very clear that I did not overrule an advisory committee. This wasn’t — I listened to all of the proceedings of the F.D.A. advisory committee, and intently listened to this exceptional group of scientists that publicly and very transparently deliberated for hours over some of these very difficult questions, and where the science was. This was a scientific close call. In that situation, it was my call to make.

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