States get ahead of feds in boosters

Faced with rising coronavirus infections, some states are getting ahead of the federal government and making booster vaccines available to anyone who wants them, speeding up the rollout in hopes of mitigating a potential winter spike.

This week, the governor of Colorado. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Appeals Court Delays Ruling on Trump Document; Biden to Meet with Xi Overnight Health Care – Presented by Rare Access Action Project – Advocates Lobby Congress to Boost Pandemic Preparedness Funding Colorado Governor Allows All Adults to Receive Vaccine Boosters MORE (D) signed an executive order declaring that everyone over the age of 18 is eligible for a booster dose. Hospitals in the state are once again overflowing with COVID-19 patients and officials are fighting to slow the spread of the virus before winter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 45 percent of fully vaccinated adults 65 and older in Colorado have received a booster shot.

In California, where cases are also on the rise, health officials are encouraging boosters for all people who have been vaccinated for at least six months. Only about 34 percent of people 65 and older have received a booster in the state.

“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you to go out and get it,” California Health Secretary Mark Ghaly said during a news conference.

The current federal guidance for boosters is quite broad: People who should receive a booster are people 65 and older and anyone at high risk due to work, where you live, or people with an underlying medical condition.

Vaccine providers are not supposed to ask questions or turn anyone away, relying on self-attestation for eligibility. Still, the Food and Drug Administration and CDC did not recommend boosters for everyone, putting Colorado and California at odds with federal guidelines.

Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said federal health officials have been unclear.

Chaotic and sometimes disparate messages from administration health officials over the past two months culminated in a complicated set of recommendations about who should get booster shots and why.

“We have the director of the CDC saying one thing: [Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care — Presented by Rare Access Action Project — Pfizer wants boosters for everyone Cheney challenger serving as co-counsel in lawsuit against Biden vaccine mandate Pfizer asks FDA to authorize booster shot for all adults MORE] saying something else, the president saying something else, and that’s causing massive confusion, and that’s why public health officials are taking it on themselves, “Gandhi said.

“In my opinion, the data is very clear. Get it if you are over 65, get it if you are immunosuppressed and otherwise I think we don’t have good evidence for it,” he added.

The Biden administration has promised and encouraged booster doses for months, and federal officials are currently evaluating a request from Pfizer to authorize a booster dose for all adults 18 and older.

When asked during a news conference if other states should follow California and Colorado, the CDC Director Rochelle WalenskyRochelle Walensky The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Appeals Court Delays Ruling on Trump Document; Biden to Meet Xi 900,000 Children Expected to Get Vaccinated in Week One: Overnight Medical Care at the White House – Presented by Rare Access Action Project – White House unaffected by mandate ruling MORE objected, stating that they are encouraging everyone eligible for a booster to receive it, but the agency’s goal is to make sure everyone receives their primary doses.

White House Press Secretary Jen psakiJen PsakiOn The Money – Budget Analysts Caught in Partisan Shooting Nighttime Health Care – Presented by Rare Access Action Project – Biden Presents FDA Choice Equilibrium / Sustainability – Presented by Altria – Cotton Farm Accused of Firing Black Workers PLUS on Friday he said local officials must continue to follow federal guidelines.

“This is not currently the guidance projected by our health and medical experts, and we would continue to advise leaders across the country to adhere to the federal government’s public health guidelines,” he said.

Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at New York University and Bellevue Hospital, said states should follow federal recommendations, but it’s a problem when the administration hasn’t articulated why the reinforcements are necessary.

“This is really only going to have an impact at that population level. It doesn’t make sense to have this individual free for all, which is the situation … the governors of California and Colorado are tightening up,” Gounder said.

Gounder, who advised Biden’s transition team on COVID-19, said he believes health officials are looking for anything to try to improve protection, as there are still many people who are not vaccinated.

“I think this comes from the feeling that they are really frustrated,” Gounder said. “They’ve done everything they can to try to encourage unvaccinated people to get vaccinated, starting with incentives and then gradually working towards mandates … It’s kind of an act of desperation where it’s like, well what? more are we supposed to do?? “

Experts and federal officials agree that the drivers will not end the pandemic.

But when only about 70 percent of people over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated, boosters may be the only thing they can do.

In Colorado, officials argued that because transmission is so widespread, everyone is at risk of contracting an infection, so everyone is eligible for a booster shot.

“Because the spread of the disease is so important throughout Colorado, all Coloradans who are 18 years of age or older are at high risk and qualify for a booster shot,” Polis said in his order.

During a press conference on Friday, Polis also noted that if vaccinated people can receive a booster, it will decrease the risk of a breakthrough infection spreading to someone older and vulnerable.

But Gounder said the reinforcements won’t help Colorado’s overwhelmed hospitals, and any additional protection may only be temporary. A concentrated effort to secure reinforcements in nursing homes, he argued, would help much more.

“Your risk as a vaccinated person remains proportional to the level of transmission in the community,” Gounder said. “So the best protection is actually vaccinating the unvaccinated, not getting extra doses.”

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