The DO

After emergency meeting, CDC advisory committee recommends Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

Committee also discussed vaccine guidance for special populations and important details to know about the vaccine.

By The DO Staff


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recently approved new recommendations for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which recently received FDA emergency approval for people age 16 and older.

At a Dec. 12 meeting, the ACIP voted to recommend the vaccine for people who are 16 or older. It is also recommending that it be added to the CDC’s 2021 Adult and Child/Adolescent immunization schedules.

Stanley E. Grogg, DO, the AOA’s liaison to the ACIP, shared additional relevant information about the vaccine and the emergency meeting with the AOA. Here is a summary of his report.

Things to know about the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

  • Overall efficacy of the vaccine is 95%; none of the clinical trial participants who received the vaccine and contracted COVID-19 needed to be hospitalized.
  • The vaccine will be free of charge to the U.S. population.
  • The vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart, with a four-day grace period. It cannot be interchanged with other COVID-19 vaccines.
  • The vaccine should not be given within 14 days of other vaccinations.

Special populations

  • Patients with a prior symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection can receive the vaccine.
  • Patients who have a current COVID-19 infection should not receive the vaccine until after recovering from acute illness and after their quarantine period is over.
  • Patients who received passive antibody therapy for COVID-19 should wait 90 days before getting the vaccine.
  • People with underlying medical conditions who have no contraindication to vaccination can receive the vaccine.
  • Data on the safety of the vaccine for people with HIV and other immunocompromising conditions is not currently available; these patients can still receive the vaccine if they choose to do so.
  • There is currently no data on the safety of the vaccine in pregnant women. Pregnant women who are part of a group, such as health care workers, that is recommended to receive the vaccine may choose to be vaccinated after discussing the issue with a clinician.
  • There is no data on the safety of the vaccine in breastfeeding and lactating women or the effect of the vaccine on breastfed infants or on milk production. The vaccine is not thought to pose a risk to a breastfeeding infant. If a breastfeeding woman is part of a group, such as health care personnel, that is recommended to receive the vaccine, she may choose to be vaccinated.
  • The ACIP is proposing that patients who have had a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable therapy do not receive the vaccine at this time. The ACIP is also proposing that patients with a history of anaphylaxis should be observed for 30 minutes after vaccine administration (and that all other patients should be observed for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine).

Vaccine side effects

Before vaccination, clinicians should counsel vaccine recipients about expected local and systemic post-vaccination symptoms. Patients can take antipyretic or analgesic medication to treat fever and pain following vaccination.

Guidance for vaccinated people

Information on how long the vaccine lasts, how well it works in the general population and how much it reduces disease and transmission is currently limited. At this time, people who receive the vaccine are advised to continue following the current guidance to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, including wearing a mask in public places and social distancing.

For more information, view the full summary.