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Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky. Source: Reuters
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  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers giving COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to severely immunocompromised people
  • The CDC says the US Food and Drug Administration is working with Pfizer and Moderna to potentially launch a booster shot program
  • Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation urged countries to delay giving booster shots so poorer countries could have more access to vaccines
  • Some countries, such as Israel and Germany, are already administering booster shots to vulnerable people or plan to do so in the near future

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering giving COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to people who are severely immunocompromised.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House press conference this week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been working with vaccine producers to give certain vulnerable people a third shot of the jab.

She said the FDA was working with Pfizer and Moderna to potentially allow booster shots for people who might need them most, such as those who have had recent organ transplants or some cancer patients.

“An additional dose could help increase protection for these individuals, which is especially important as the Delta variant spreads,” Dr Walensky said.

“This action is about ensuring our most vulnerable, who may need an additional dose to enhance their biological responses to the vaccines, are better protected against COVID-19.”

Even if the FDA gives the go-ahead for booster shots, however, it still comes down to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to support the decision before the extra shots will be administered.

The advisory committee is set to meet on Friday to discuss the matter and issue its recommendations.

WHO calls for a “moratorium on boosters”

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged countries to hold off on administering COVID-19 booster shots as lower-income countries lag behind in vaccination rates.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called out the growing disparity in jab rates between richer and poorer nations, saying an “urgent reversal” is needed to stop the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries at the expense of low-income countries.

“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant, but we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it,” Mr Ghebreyesus said.

Accordingly, he asked global governments to pause any booster shots until at least the end of September to allow a minimum of 10 per cent of the population of every country to receive their jab.

US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said this week the government was evaluating the need for booster shots on a day-by-day basis, but at this stage officials do not believe the elderly or those who are not immunocompromised need an extra dose.

Some countries, such as Israel and Germany, have already started administering booster shots to vulnerable people or plan to do so in the near future.

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