Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky told Fox News on Friday her bureau is “absolutely following the science” on coronavirus vaccine booster shots, after an uproar over President Biden’s planned rollout was suddenly dashed by a near-unanimous FDA advisory council vote against recommending boosters for the general population.
Walensky told “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier she has sat through “hours” of deliberation and discussion with various scientists and academics in working to corroborate what the by-definition ever-changing science is saying about vaccine efficacy and the need for boosters or lack thereof.
“We are absolutely following the science… I think what you’re starting to see is the science is emerging. We are in a pandemic here. We are actively getting new information every day about the effectiveness of these vaccines, the effectiveness of boosters, the safety of these vaccines. And we are updating our guidance every single day and following the science,” said Walensky, who led the infectious disease unit at Massachusetts General Hospital prior to her appointment by Biden.
Baier noted that the FDA advisory council voted 16-2against recommending the general population receive the booster shot, and that they later did vote to however suggest the auxiliary jab for the immunocompromised and senior citizens.
He asked Walensky to respond to comments by Trump-era medical adviser Adm. Brett Giroir, who called out the apparent contradiction between the FDA, CDC and Biden:
“Now if that’s not confusing or smell of politics, I don’t know what is. So, of course, this is going to lead to more vaccine hesitancy. Of course, it’s going to backfire in certain communities,” Giroir said.
Walensky responded that another less-covered vote by the FDA board was that of whether to give the booster shot to “frontline workers” – and that that particular tally resulted in a positive recommendation.
“It came to our CDC advisory board and we deliberated on it. It was a close call. And as you noted, the vote was 6 to 9. But we had a unanimous vote from the FDA. We had a close call from the CDC. And following the science, following the safety, I made the decision to go along with what the FDA said and with many of what our advisory board said,” she said.
When asked about the efficacy of natural immunity to COVID – that which comes from a human body that has developed antibodies after fighting the virus – Walensky said it was an important subject that is being “actively scientifically followed.”
There has been criticism of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates on the grounds that natural immunity played no role in the president’s decision earlier this month.
“We do know that people who have infection-induced immunity get a robust response. Some of them do. We have seen data that has demonstrated that. We have also seen data that if you vaccinate those people, they’re two and a half times more protected than they would have been if you don’t vaccinate those people,” Walensky responded in that regard.
“And that’s the reason for the recommendation to vaccinate people who have infection-induced immunity.”