Arkansas joined California, New Mexico, and Colorado in expanding access to Covid-19 boosters on Monday. This was a major step ahead of federal regulators, who are nearing a decision on expanded eligibility.
Gov. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson stated at Monday’s news conference that he had instructed the state health department, to issue new guidelines regarding boosters. This would allow adults to get boosters provided they meet the timing requirements. Arkansas became the latest state to decide on boosters before a federal ruling.
A spokeswoman for Arkansas’s health department stated that it had updated its recommendations, and would be advising providers of health care about the possibility of administering boosters to an expanded population.
“What we’re finding is that we want more people to get their booster shot and that this is somewhat confusing and limiting as to the eligibility,” Mr. Hutchinson said, adding, “we’re changing that.”
However, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office said that Mr. Hutchinson had no plans to issue an executive order to expand booster eligibility.
According to the health department guidelines, Arkansas adults are now eligible for the vaccine booster if it has been at least six months since their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or at least two months since they received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Early global research is showing that vaccines can still be highly protective against death and hospitalization, but that they lose effectiveness against infection over time. This does not mean that vaccines are ineffective, according to public health experts.
In mid-August, President Biden declared plans to make boosters accessible to all adults. However, the campaign was delayed by regulators who said they needed more time for data review. Pfizer and BioNTech demanded that the Food and Drug Administration increase eligibility for their booster to all adult, a request that the agency is likely to grant before the winter holiday seasons.
Many other states have used different approaches to increase booster eligibility before the federal authorities make a formal recommendation.
Last week, the governors of Colorado (and New Mexico) signed executive orders expanding eligibility to all adults. In California, Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the state’s public health director, issued a letter last week that said eligibility was open to anyone 18 or over.
Monday’s announcement by New York and West Virginia authorities encouraged all adults to get the booster. However, they did not make any formal policy changes. Governor George W. Bush echoed the plea by New York City health officials to give booster shots to all adults who request them. Kathy Hochul. In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice said adults should “absolutely get” a booster.
Source: NY Times