covid-19 /

NY Health Dept Authorizes COVID Boosters for Adults 18 and Older

CDC and FDA only recommend boosters to adults under 65 if they fall in high-risk categories

New York City’s Health Department advises all adults 18 and older to schedule a COVID booster shot despite official CDC and FDA guidance. 

“I’m issuing a Commissioner’s Advisor to ALL health care providers emphasizing our guidance and ensuring there are no access barriers,” Dave A. Chokshi, commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, tweeted on Nov. 15. “I know that booster doses can provide one more layer of reassurance, allowing us to breathe a bit easier for ourselves or for our loved ones.”

Chokshi indicated that boosters for all adults will provide additional protection before winter and the holidays. He also encouraged healthcare providers to proactively reach out to their newly eligible patients. 

“Clinicians should allow adult patients to determine their own risk of exposure, based on their individual circumstances. In practice, this means that providers should not turn a patient away if they request a booster as long as they are 18 and older,” he said. 

While Chokshi acknowledged hospitalizations in New York City remain low, he cited “an uptick in cases in recent days” as a reason for urging citizens to schedule appointments for booster shots. 

According to data on the city’s department of health website, the daily average percent of people who test positive is decreasing. By the same metric, hospitalizations and confirmed deaths are also declining. 

The only number that mildly increased, according to NYC Health, is the daily average of confirmed cases, which went up from 936 to 1,034. 

NYC Health’s new guidance is generally at odds with the recommendations of the CDC and FDA.  

The CDC says adults 18 to 64 are only eligible for a booster if they’ve received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine and live in a long-term care setting, have underlying medical conditions, or work in a high-risk setting. 

According to the FDA, a single booster dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can only be administered to individuals who are 65 or older; adults 18 to 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19; or adults 18 to 64 with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to the virus. 

NBC New York reports there are currently 6.6 million people 18 and older in New York City. Thus far, about 630,000 — or 9.5% of the now eligible population — have received boosters. 

NYC Health’s announcement received support from Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, who said the city’s high density could result in elevated exposure risk.

Chokshi clarified on Twitter that boosters should only be administered to adults 18 and older at least 6 months after the Moderna or Pfizer dose or at least 2 months after the Johnson & Johnson dose.

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