Speed Reads

Vaccination Nation

Colorado opens COVID-19 boosters to all adults, but CDC director is reportedly iffy on national approval

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued an executive order Thursday opening COVID-19 booster shots to all vaccinated adults, saying that because "disease spread is so significant across Colorado, all Coloradans who are 18 years of age and older are at high risk and qualify for a booster shot." Under current federal guidelines, all adult Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients can get a booster, but only those 65 and older or at high risk due to medical conditions or exposure at work are eligible for a third Pfizer or Moderna shot.

Most top health officials in the Biden administration — including Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, top medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, and chief White House coronavirus science officer David Kessler — support opening booster shots to all adults nationwide, The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with their views. But "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky has expressed caution about making extra shots so broadly available now," and "tension is rising among officials over how quickly to proceed and who should get the shots." 

Supporters of expanding booster shot eligibility point to Israel's success with third shots amid waning protections from the vaccines. Canada and Germany are among the other nations that have approved booster shots for all adults. 

Pfizer on Tuesday asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve its request to open its booster for all adults, and the FDA "is strongly inclined to grant it, perhaps by the end of the month — though a disagreement with the CDC could complicate matters," the Post reports. Walensky and some other top CDC officials reportedly aren't convinced young adults need boosters and are waiting to fully review the data. There are concerns that focusing on boosters will take the focus off the real imperative: getting unvaccinated people inoculated. 

The highest U.S. uptake in booster shots so far have been in northern, mostly rural states with few mask mandates and low vaccination rates — with the exception of Vermont, which leads the nation in both vaccination rate and booster shots — the Post reports. Meanwhile, booster shots rates are lower in states that have successfully managed the Delta surge and have high vaccination saturation, including California and New York, and Southern states with low vaccinated rates where fall outbreaks are easing.