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CDC director defies own advisory panel over COVID-19 booster

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky broke from her own agency’s guidance late Thursday when she endorsed the Pfizer coronavirus booster shot for “younger at-risk workers,” despite an internal panel’s contrary recommendation.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices panel previously advised that the booster shot be recommended for Americans 65 and older and for those over 50 with underlying medical conditions that put them at greater risk.

The panel voted against recommending the booster shot for younger at-risk workers including teachers and frontline medical workers.

In a decision that is not even backed by her own agency, Walensky reinstituted the recommendation for younger at-risk workers, citing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration booster authorization from earlier this week, but some Americans are not trusting the new guidance.

“If it’s not safe for a 30 year old, how is it safe for a 90 year old?” one Twitter user wrote in reference to the FDA’s initial rejection of the booster shot just last week for anyone except those over 65 with a high risk of contracting the virus.

The FDA, however, changed its’ tune on Wednesday, approving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster for at least six months after the initial two doses in individuals 65 years of age and older; individuals 18 through 64 years of age at high risk of severe COVID-19; and individuals 18 through 64 years of age whose frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19, according to an agency report.

“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact. At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good,” Walensky said in a statement.

Americans have questioned the FDA’s quick reversal, especially because it became a precursor for Walensky’s decision to go rogue.

“[Wednesday’s] action demonstrates that science and the currently available data continue to guide the FDA’s decision-making for COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic. After considering the totality of the available scientific evidence and the deliberations of our advisory committee of independent, external experts, the FDA amended the EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to allow for a booster dose in certain populations,” Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. stated in defense of the FDA’s decision.

It remains unclear how the scientific evidence could have changed so markedly in less than one week’s time.

Some have a sneaking suspicion that money is the motivator:

Even former President Trump went on the record to bash Pfizer over the booster shot, claiming that he “saw the dollar signs in their eyes.”

“You know what? That sounds to me like a money-making operation for Pfizer. Think of the money involved. An extra shot — that’s tens of billions of dollars. How good a business is that?… you wouldn’t think you would need a booster, you know when it first came out they were good for life. Then they were good for a year or two. I could see the writing on the wall. I saw the dollar signs in their eyes. The guy that runs Pfizer that announced the day after the election that he had the vaccine, we knew that… I knew that, and people knew that,” Trump said in August.

Infectious disease experts on the advisory panel were surprised to hear Walensky’s reversal, according to The New York Times, but they did concede the vote was close and didn’t begrudge her decision.

The CDC Director reiterated on Thursday that, despite the breaking news surrounding the booster recommendation, the agency’s top goal remains to vaccinate the unvaccinated.

That’s not the only news of reversal that has come out of the CDC this week.

The agency is reported to have silently altered its COVID-19 prevention guidance for schools by removing a section that detailed when schools could forego precautions like masks, according to DailyMail.

The full sentence that was removed read: “The guidance is intended to help administrators and local health officials select appropriate, layered prevention strategies and understand how to safely transition learning environments out of COVID-19 pandemic precautions as community transmission of COVID-19 reaches low levels or stops.”

The CDC usually lists any updates to its guidance at the top of its “Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools” website. The agency failed to mention this change, however, dating back to August 5th, according to the DailyMail.

Critics are tired of co-parenting with the government and frustrated by the elimination, which has quashed any hopes of a return to normalcy for America’s students.

Kay Apfel

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