The head of the CDC said Sunday that individuals eligible for COVID-19 booster shots should figure out for themselves whether a third dose is necessary.
“We made it possible for people to be eligible, but they really have to identify their own individual risk and their own individual benefit,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
Walensky was asked during the interview whether someone such as a healthy 20-year-old who waits tables should get the booster shot — but she said the answer would have to take into consideration factors such as vaccination rates in the region.
“I would try and get a sense from that individual [of] what kind of community? How much are people wearing masks? Are there masks in the restaurant? Are people generally vaccinated in that community to make a personal decision about whether that person wants to be vaccinated [with a third dose]?” she said.
The FDA on Wednesday approved Pfizer’s booster shots for people over the age of 65, those older than 18 who have an underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to the disease, and workers at high risk of getting the virus from occupational exposure.
Those eligible for a third dose because of their employment include health-care workers, teachers and people toiling in prisons, homeless shelters, grocery stores and public transportation.
Walensky acknowledged that determining whether someone should get a booster can be “confusing” but said that those eligible can speak with healthcare providers about what they should do.
“We have a lot of resources available with your pharmacist, with your physicians, with your public-health departments and with the CDC,” Walensky said.
Top health officials had previously advocated for giving third doses to all Americans about eight months after they received their second shot — but federal regulators nixed the plan, citing that more data was needed about their necessity and effectiveness.
Walensky said it’s still possible that US will recommend third doses for everyone.
“The science may very well show that the rest of the population needs to be boosted, and we will provide those guidances as soon as we have the science to inform them,” she said.