United States (US) regulators expanded eligibility for booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines to all adults on Friday, allowing millions more Americans to get additional protection against the virus amid a recent rise in infections.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, signed off on the expanded eligibility on Friday evening after the US Food and Drug Administration broadened its authorization of booster doses to all adults who had received their second shot of either the Pfizer, BioNTech or Moderna Inc vaccine at least six months prior.
Regulators had previously authorized boosters for all recipients of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine, two months after their primary dose.
“Booster shots have demonstrated the ability to safely increase people’s protection against infection and severe outcomes and are an important public health tool to strengthen our defenses against the virus as we enter the winter holidays,” Walensky said in a statement.
Most adults were already eligible for the additional shots, but fewer than 18% had received one, according to CDC data. But many public health officials felt the previous eligibility requirements were too complicated.
“The current guidelines – though well intentioned and thoughtful – generate an obstacle to uptake of boosters.
In pursuit of precision, they create confusion,” said Nirav Shah, a top Maine public health official and president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.