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C.D.C. Director Defends Decision to Clear Frontline Workers for Pfizer Boosters

  • September 25, 2021

As President Biden cheered moves by federal regulators to allow for millions of Americans to get booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defended her decision on Friday to recommend the shots for frontline workers, a highly unusual move because it overruled her agency’s scientific advisers.

“I want to be very clear that I did not overrule an advisory committee,” the director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told reporters at a White House briefing, saying she had listened to the panel’s discussion. “This was a scientific close call. In that situation, it was my call to make.”

She added, “it was a decision about providing rather than withholding access.”

Dr. Walensky’s pointed remarks underscored growing confusion around the start of the long-awaited booster rollout. Earlier on Friday, Mr. Biden appeared at the White House to hail the decision by federal regulators to clear Pfizer boosters for many Americans who had a second dose of that vaccine at least six months ago. He urged those eligible for a third shot to get one quickly to fortify their protection to the dangerous Delta variant that swept through the country this summer.

“My message today is this: If you’ve got the Pfizer vaccine, you got the Pfizer vaccine in January, February, March of this year, and you’re over 65 years of age, go get the booster,” Mr. Biden said. “Or, if you’re in a have a medical condition like diabetes, or you’re a frontline worker like a health care worker or a teacher, you can get a free booster.”

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