IA large-scale campaign for Corona booster vaccinations has started in the United States. US President Joe Biden said on Friday that around 20 million adults are now entitled to a third vaccination with BioNTech / Pfizer’s vaccine. “Get the booster,” said the President in the White House. Previously, the head of the CDC health authority had spoken a word of power in the dispute over which population groups were entitled to the booster vaccination.
From now on, the CDC recommends a third vaccination for all people over 65 years of age, for people with an increased risk of serious illness and for employees in professions with a high risk of infection, such as health workers and teachers. The additional vaccination dose is possible six months after the second dose.
The FDA approved the BioNTech / Pfizer vaccine for booster vaccination in these populations on Wednesday. The CDC then had to decide who actually got access to the third dose. A CDC panel of experts voted on Thursday with nine to six votes against the inclusion of employees in professions with a high risk of infection in the refreshment campaign. The debate reflects the divided opinion of experts on the question of the usefulness of booster vaccinations for younger people.
The last word was now with CDC boss Rochelle Walensky. In a rare step, this disregarded the recommendation of the experts in her house and agreed with the FDA’s view. “In a pandemic, even when there is uncertainty, we must take steps that we believe will lead to the greatest common good,” said Walensky.
Biden also wants the third vaccination
As things stand, around 20 million people are entitled to the third-party vaccination. The number will rise to 60 million in the coming weeks because more and more people have had their second vaccination at least six months ago. The health authorities had already approved a third corona vaccine dose for people with a weakened immune system in August.
There is still no recommendation for a booster vaccination with the vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which are also used in the USA. President Biden actually wanted to start the refreshment campaign last Monday – with the vaccines from BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna.
The president said Friday the booster vaccination offered “the highest level of protection currently available”. He himself will soon be given a booster vaccination.
WHO requires vaccination from poorer countries first
Biden also renewed his appeal to previously unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. “This is a pandemic for the unvaccinated,” warned the President repeatedly. More than 70 million people entitled to a vaccination have not yet been vaccinated. They would “cause a lot of damage” in the USA, for example by overloading hospitals in the event of illness. According to Walensky, there are still an average of around 120,000 new Covid infections and almost 2000 deaths per day in the USA.
The question of a booster vaccination is controversial. Proponents of a third-party vaccination argue that an additional vaccine dose increases protection against infection with the coronavirus, especially in view of the spread of the delta variant. Opponents of a booster vaccination, on the other hand, say that two doses of the vaccine would already offer sufficient protection. They also argue that the focus should be on vaccinating unvaccinated people – in the US, but also in developing countries where there is a shortage of vaccines.
In Germany, people in need of care, people over 80 and people with immunodeficiency are sometimes offered a third vaccination. The Standing Vaccination Commission has not yet spoken out in favor of general booster vaccinations for seniors – but has recommended a booster dose with an mRNA vaccine for people with immunodeficiency. The WHO had already called for a temporary stop of such vaccinations at the beginning of August, as long as many poorer countries are still waiting for vaccination doses. Several researchers had recently expressed doubts about booster vaccinations for everyone. The globally limited number of vaccine doses could save most lives if it benefited people who are at considerable risk of developing serious illnesses and who are still unvaccinated.