Arkansas opens booster to all adults as regulatory weight expands
Arkansas on Monday joined Colorado, California and New Mexico in broadening access to COVID-19 boosters to overtake federal regulators that are close to making a decision on expanded eligibility.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said in a news conference Monday that he had directed the state health department to issue new guidelines on boosters to allow all adults to receive one, provided they meet timing rules. be. The move made Arkansas the latest state to issue a decision on the booster ahead of a federal rule.
A spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Health said in a statement that it has updated its recommendations and will advise health care providers to administer the booster to an expanded pool of adults.
“What we are finding is that we want more people to get their booster shots and this is somewhat confusing and limited to qualify,” Mr Hutchinson said, adding that “we are changing that.”
However, a spokesman for the governor’s office said there were no plans to issue an executive order expanding Hutchinson’s booster eligibility.
According to Department of Health guidelines, Arkansas adults are now eligible for a vaccine booster if it has been at least six months since their second shot of Pfizer or Moderna Vaccine, or at least two months after they received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. received a single dose of Vaccination.
A growing body of preliminary global research has shown that while vaccines are highly protective against hospitalization and death, their effectiveness against infection declines over time. Public health experts say that doesn’t mean vaccines aren’t working.
In mid-August, President Biden announced plans to make the booster available to all adults, but the start of the campaign was delayed because regulators said they needed more time to review the data. Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech requested that the Food and Drug Administration expand the eligibility of their boosters to all adults, a request the agency is expected to grant before the winter holiday season.
Ahead of a formal recommendation from federal officials, several other states have taken different approaches to expanding booster eligibility.
The governors of Colorado and New Mexico signed executive orders last week expanding eligibility to all adults. In California, the state’s director of public health, Dr. Tomas J. Aragon issued a letter last week saying eligibility is open to anyone 18 years of age or older.
Officials in New York and West Virginia on Monday encouraged all adults to take boosters, but fell short of formal policy changes. New York City health officials are asking health providers to give booster shots to all adults who want them, a petition echoed by Gov. In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice said adults should “absolutely get” the booster.
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