“The most vulnerable are those who are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC on Friday approved a third injection of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to a larger group of Americans.
“As of today, if you are six months away from your last dose of Pfizer vaccine, you are eligible for a booster if you belong to one of the three high risk groups,” said the US surgeon general. , Dr. Vivek Murthy, during a briefing.
“Number one: you’re 65 or older. Number two: you have a health condition that puts you at high risk for serious illness with Covid and these conditions include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and others. And number three: You work or live in an environment where you are at high risk of exposure to Covid. This includes healthcare workers, teachers, those who live in shelters or prisons, and grocery store workers, ”Murthy said.
“I want to be clear: we will not accelerate our way out of this pandemic,” she said on Friday.
The United States fully vaccinated more than 55% of all residents on Friday, according to CDC data, while 75% of those eligible for the vaccine received at least one inoculation dose.
A recent CNN analysis showed that the average death rate from Covid-19 in the 10 least vaccinated states was more than four times higher over the past week than the rate in the 10 most vaccinated states.
CDC vaccine advisers had recommended that booster shots be made eligible for people over 65 and those with health risks – without expanding that threshold to include those who may be disproportionately exposed to the virus in their work. But Walensky decided to take the occupational exposure group into account in his advice.
“Some people have really voted… enthusiastically that our health workers, our frontline workers, the people who were vaccinated early, the people who work in assembly places, in correctional facilities, in grocers, deserve really the vaccine, ”Walensky said. CNN’s Erin Burnett. “The question was not ‘yes or no’, the question was ‘wait or do now’,” she added.
Ultimately, the decision for boosters was to “provide rather than deny access” and the need to protect society as a whole, Walensky explained.
Boosters are ready now
The reminders are already available, with CVS Health announcing on Friday that nearly 6,000 of its sites have started offering appointments for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
And because federal health officials only cleared the recall from Pfizer, “people who initially received the COVID-19 Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are not eligible for a recall at this time.” , the company said.
Those who choose to be vaccinated will be asked to “self-certify their eligibility” described by public health officials, CVS said. They should also receive the first two doses of Pfizer.
Walensky reassured those who received the Moderna or J&J vaccines that health officials have not forgotten them and are working to determine next steps.
“We will be evaluating, with the same urgency, the data available in the coming weeks to quickly make additional recommendations for other populations at risk and for people who have received the Moderna and J&J vaccines. “
Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “is working with Moderna and J&J to obtain and process their data as quickly as possible with the goal of making recall recommendations for Moderna recipients and J&J in the coming weeks. is a high, high priority. “
In California, Los Angeles County also began offering the booster shots to its residents on Friday who show proof of vaccination and affirm their eligibility, the county’s public health department said in a press release. People who live in long-term care facilities, are over 18 with underlying health conditions, or are frontline workers are also eligible for the third dose, department officials said.
Many schools closed due to Covid-19 epidemics, study finds
The headaches facing school officials and parents were highlighted in a study released Friday on the impact of the pandemic so far on in-person learning.
About 1,800 schools closed between August 1 and September 17 because cases of Covid-19 were detected, which affected the education and well-being of 933,000 students, according to the CDC study.
Nearly 60,000 teachers in 44 states were also affected by closures, and the number of closures was highest in the South, according to the study.
Looking at data from 8,700 districts nationwide, the CDC study found that “the greatest number of districts with full distance learning (14) were in the West Census Region, followed by the South (11). Seven districts in the Midwest and two in the Northeast offered full distance learning. . ”
The study noted that the timing of the return to school may be a factor in school closures because schools in the South have returned earlier in August than in other parts of the country – which typically start in late August or early August. September.
The Covid-19 outbreaks forced 300 schools in Tennessee to close, according to the study, noting that was the highest number in the country – followed by Georgia, Kentucky, Texas and South Carolina.
The CDC recommends that people in schools wear masks even if they are vaccinated as well as drug tests and physical distancing to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
CNN’s Maggie Fox, Deidre McPhillips, Virginia Langmaid, Stella Chen and Elizabeth Stuart contributed to this report.