CDC Director Rochelle Walinsky explains what you need to know about COVID vaccines, boosters, and more

except: In an exclusive Q&A with Fox News, Rochelle Wallinsky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she “strongly” encourages those who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to do so, saying that vaccination “remains the best way to protect ourselves and our families. and our communities from COVID-19,” while encouraging those who qualify to receive a booster vaccine to maintain “strong protection.”

The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have authorized and recommended the use of the booster vaccines from Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for certain groups.

The FDA also signed off on “mix and match” vaccines, allowing, for example, some individuals who initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to choose to receive a booster dose from either Pfizer of Moderna.

And earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowed recommended doses of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

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Walensky broke down what you need to know:

Many adults who have been vaccinated are confused as to whether or not they should receive a booster dose. Can you clarify who qualifies for a booster dose per injection?

Walinsky: For those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, all people 18 years of age and older who were vaccinated two months or more ago are eligible for a booster. For those who have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, there are several groups of people who are eligible to receive a booster dose 6 months or more after the initial series. These groups include people 65 or older, 18 and older with underlying medical conditions, 18 or older who live in long-term care settings, as well as those 18 or older who are They live or work in high-risk locations. If you are 6 months after a second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and you are in one of these groups, you are eligible for a booster.”

Do you recommend that eligible recipients receive a booster injection?

Valensky: Vaccination remains the best way to protect ourselves, our families and our communities from COVID-19. I cannot stress the importance of vaccination enough. I highly recommend those who qualify for a booster dose based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Why did your advisory panel choose not to recommend the Pfizer booster dose to many adults? What would you say to critics who would say the committee was “following the flag”? Do you have complete confidence in your advisory committee?

Valensky: The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices includes among its members world-renowned scientists and medical professionals. As new data and science emerge during this pandemic, this committee has met constantly to present their individual and group experiences and thoroughly discuss the scientific evidence. I trust the advice and advice they give the Agency on matters relating to the use of approved vaccines.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walinsky speaks to the press after visiting the FEMA Heinz Convention Center’s mass vaccination site on March 30, 2021, in Boston, Massachusetts.
(Erin Clark Paul/Getty Images)

The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC have discussed “mix-and-match” boosters for some adults who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which means they can now get a dose of Pfizer or Moderna. Were there clinical trials related to this new recommendation? Were there any side effects for patients who mixed and matched vaccines?

Walinsky: Some people may prefer the type of vaccine they originally received, because they performed well with their initial series, while some may want another type. FDA clearances and CDC recommendations allow mixing and matching between the initial vaccine series and the booster shot. The most important aspect is receiving the powerful protection that vaccines provide.

Do you have a message for those still hesitant to receive any COVID vaccines?

Walinsky: All three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are safe. All of them have proven to be highly effective in reducing the risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death. If you have not yet been vaccinated, I strongly encourage you to consider the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and getting vaccinated – not only for yourself, but also for the health and safety of your children, family and community.

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For those who are still not sure about getting vaccinated, talk to a health professional you trust – ask your doctor, pharmacist or vaccinators in your community a question to get the information you need.

Will children who have received shots be required to wear masks in schools?

Walinsky: Our top priority is to ensure that children have a safe, in-person school year this year. Masks in schools have been proven to protect our children, keep them and their school communities safe, and keep them in school for personal learning, especially since a large number of children remain unvaccinated. As we continue to vaccinate more children and adults, schools must continue to use prevention measures that we know keep children safe, such as wearing masks in schools and indoor spaces, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing hands regularly. We will continue to follow the development of science, vaccination status and case rates as we make recommendations to keep our schools safe.

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Are there any specific members of the Biden administration directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to make and implement any policies regarding combating COVID-19?

Walinsky: We are collaborating across the entire government and across the scientific and medical community to stay ahead of the virus and push us forward on our way out of this pandemic – to stop the spread of infection, keep people out of hospital, and save as many lives as possible.

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