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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices voted Thursday to endorse giving a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to people 65 and older and nursing home residents. It also recommended a Pfizer booster for people aged 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. The boosters would come six months after the original two-dose regimen.

This decision came one day after the Food and Drug Administration authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Americans over 65 and adults at heightened risk of severe illness.

Still, many questions remain. For one, the FDA’s authorization only pertains to third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but nearly 68 million Americans received two doses of the Moderna vaccine and an additional 14.7 million got one dose of a single-shot Johnson & Johnson (or Janssen) vaccine. A decision on booster shots of those vaccines could come in the next few weeks.

Here’s what to know

  • Before the panel began deliberations, CDC director Rochelle Walensky told committee members that they are “tasked with difficult decisions.” “What has been your north star, and what drives my own thinking every day, is a commitment to follow the science to improve the health of as many Americans as possible,” she said.
  • The pandemic could be over in a year, according to the CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, who told a Swiss newspaper that there should be enough vaccines for “everyone on this earth” by “the middle of next year,” while the unvaccinated would largely acquire natural immunity “because the delta variant is so contagious.”
  • As the United States careens toward a financial crisis threatening to shutter the government in a little over a week, infectious-disease official Anthony S. Fauci is sounding the alarm. “The worst time in the world we want to shut down the government is in the middle of a pandemic. . . . That’s the time when you want the government working full blast to address this,” Fauci said.
  • Alaska on Wednesday became the second state this month to activate crisis standards of care. What does that really entail?