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FDA & CDC approve COVD-19 booster shot; health experts respond to announcement

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The CDC is now backing Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for millions of seniors and others who are at-risk.

This comes as studies show that immunity slowly begins to wane after 6 months.

The key thing to note with this announcement is that it only pertains to people who have received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

People who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine will need to wait for additional guidance, but health experts expect to know more in the coming weeks.

Between Wednesday and Thursday, the FDA and CDC recommendations ended up aligning.

The agencies have finally authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered at least 6 months after certain groups of people completed their primary series.

"This authorization is specific to people who are 65 years of age and older, 18 through 64 years of age who are at severe risk for COVID-19, and 18 through 64 years of age who frequent institution occupational exposure to SARS-COV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications," said Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner.

At first the CDC did not approve the suggestion for occupational exposure, but the CDC director added it back in.

This is something Mayo Clinic Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. Greg Poland agreed with.

"There are frontline healthcare providers who have been battling this fire for 19 months straight, none stop, who are at risk," Poland said. "And this recommendation allows, it's not a should, it's a may."

So what does this mean for Minnesotans?

"If you are in one of these groups and you received the Pfizer two-dose vaccine at least six months ago, you are eligible to get a booster," Malcolm said. "CDC distinguishes between those who should get the booster and those who may want to get it based on an assessment ideally with their healthcare provider of their individual risk."

"Even though they've been immunized and been fully compliant there immune systems may be affected enough that they never developed protective levels of immunity," Poland said.

Dr. Poland and other health experts are anticipating there to be an emergency use authorization recommendation coming in October for children ages five to 11 to get a reduced dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

MDH says there are plenty of COVID-19 vaccines available in the state for recommended Minnesotans to get the booster shot.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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