School bus drivers who want a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine take note.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, joined an earlier call by the Food and Drug Administration to include people ages 18 to 64 whose jobs might put them at the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.
The FDA on Tuesday authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot for all individuals 65 years of age and older as well as people 18 through 64 years old who are at high risk of severe COVID-19. Additionally, FDA authorized the single-dose boosters for others who are 18 through 64 years of age and have “frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 puts them at high risk of serious complications of COVID-19 including severe COVID-19.”
Fully vaccinated individuals may receive the booster starting six months following their second Pfizer shot.
On Friday, Walensky endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation for a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for older and immunocompromised people. However, the advisory committee stopped short of recommending the boosters for people working in at-risk occupations. Walensky took the additional step of recommending a booster dose for those in high-risk occupational and institutional settings.
“I believe we can best serve the nation’s public health needs by providing booster doses for the elderly, those in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions, and for adults at high risk of disease from occupational and institutional exposures to COVID-19,” she said in a statement. “This aligns with the FDA’s booster authorization and makes these groups eligible for a booster shot. [Thursday], ACIP only reviewed data for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. We will address, with the same sense of urgency, recommendations for the Moderna and [Johnson & Johnson] vaccines as soon as those data are available.”
School bus drivers are defined as essential workers by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and presumptively would be among the first eligible to receive the booster shots.
Ronna Weber, the executive director for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation, noted on Friday she has yet to obtain definitive information and guidance at this report. But she agreed that media reports that have mentioned teachers as being eligible for the booster shots indicate that school bus drivers should also be eligible.
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