The BRIEFING ROOM
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
March CDC ACIP Committee Meeting
During the March 1st CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting the committee discussed Covid-19 implementation considerations. There has been very little coverage in Big Media. Why is that? The Biden administration’s CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, hasn’t elaborated on the certain parts of the meeting that discussed vaccine implementation. Why not? Why did the CDC not release updated implementation guidance based on what the ACIP committee discussed about age-based implementation in that meeting? Did the Biden Administration not agree with what the members said?” So many questions … not enough answers.
The committee members had disagreement on whether there was enough data to show that one mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine shot was sufficient if the person had previously contracted the virus. Dr. Helen Talbot, Associate Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt, stated “I don’t need any more data; we’ve all taken immunology" suggesting that a second shot is not needed if someone had previously had the virus. Some agreed, most disagreed stating that there was not enough data. They never discussed whether it would matter if that person was young and healthy, which could mean they were already low risk for serious illness.
Despite multiple studies regarding a second shot having been published with similar data, the Biden administration's response was that "we have enough doses now, driven by the President’s action, for all adult Americans by the end of May." What about those higher risk people who still may have to wait for two or three more months to get a vaccination? AFP's opinion is that they are missing the common sense approach, backed by science, that low risk young, healthy "essential workers" could be candidates for skipping the second shot, possibly freeing up hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of vaccine doses for high risk people. In fact, one study stated that having previously had the virus could be a factor for being lower on the vaccine priority list. So, much for common sense and following "the science". Many Governors have brushed aside some ACIP guidance. Many have gone with vaccinating, at least in part, by age. Every member of the committee stated in the March 1st meeting that they opposed age brackets below age 65. However, this has allowed states to quickly advance to adults age 50/55 to 64, which saves lives. The age group 50 to 65 accounts for about 15% of all Covid-19 related deaths, yet the ACIP committee has favored equity of access to the vaccine over this age groups risk of death. Adults age 50 and older account for 95.5% of all Covid-19 deaths. In a medical context, if a person dies, it cannot be reversed. How do medical professionals make this choice? It does not take a lot of critical thinking to figure out what the implementation should have looked like from the start. However, this is what happens when you put elite academicians in charge of implementation recommendations.
The states who are using age groups below age 65 as a criteria for vaccination have both Republican and Democrat governors. This might be why the Biden administration has been silent on this issue. Alabama, which has follow much of the committee's guidance, made such a change this past week by adding seniors age 55 to 64 to the eligibility list, effective March 22nd.
With all due respect, there were some on the committee, who at least on occasion during the March meeting, spoke with common sense regarding certain aspects of the implementation. For example, there was some discussion of implementation complexity by a couple of the members, and concern for certain caregivers having not been included in the vaccine plan. Nonetheless, the ACIP committee should stick to communicating whether the vaccines are safe and effective, and leave the implementation planning to others.
"The BRIEFING ROOM" includes opinion of the Alabama Free Press .com