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CDC director defends decision to endorse booster shots for adults in high-risk jobs

People walk past a reminder of coronavirus prevention measures outside a hospital in New York on Sept. 6. (Wang Ying/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images)
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A day after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky broke with her agency’s advisory committee to recommend booster shots for adults with high-risk jobs, she pushed back against the notion that she had overruled her experts.

Walensky on Thursday recommended that people whose jobs put them at heightened risk of illness seek a third vaccine dose if they initially got the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. On Friday, she said that the advisory panel had deliberated on the issue for hours and that the decision was a “scientific close call.”

“In that situation, it was my call to make,” Walensky said at a briefing of the White House coronavirus task force. “If I had been in the room, I would have voted yes.”

Here’s what to know

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday offered more evidence that school mask requirements can help keep children healthy and in classrooms, showing lower spikes in pediatric covid cases and fewer school closures in places that require them.
  • Vice President Harris had to quickly change her on-site interview on “The View” Friday to a virtual one after two of the four co-hosts of “The View” tested positive for the coronavirus and were removed from the set.
  • President Biden on Friday urged front-line workers, people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions who got Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to receive a booster shot.
  • The World Health Organization said it supported the antibody cocktail treatment made by pharmaceutical company Regeneron as a welcome addition to the “world’s arsenal against COVID-19.”

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant. Here’s some guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

Variants: Instead of a single new Greek letter variant, a group of immune-evading omicron spinoffs are popping up all over the world. Any dominant variant will probably challenge a key line of treatment for people with compromised immune systems — the drugs known as monoclonal antibodies.

Tripledemic: Hospitals are overwhelmed by a combination of respiratory illnesses, staffing shortages and nursing home closures. And experts believe the problem will deteriorate further in coming months. Here’s how to tell the difference between RSV, the flu and covid-19.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people.

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