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CDC director: Including some workers for boosters was 'close call'

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said Sunday that determining eligibility for people at higher risk for COVID-19 because of their workplace environment was a "scientific close call."

Walensky said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that there had been "remarkable consensus" in discussions surrounding booster eligibility for people age 65 and older along with others with high-risk conditions. 

"Where there was some real scientific discussion and a scientific close call was for those people who are at high risk of living by virtue of where they live or where they work," Walensky said.

"Because of all the evidence we reviewed both at the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and at the CDC, I felt it was appropriate for those people to also be eligible for boosters," she added.

This broader group includes front-line workers in high-risk settings such as homeless shelters, group homes, prisons and schools as well as people in health care and other places such as grocery stores and those who work in public transit.

Walensky acknowledged that the guidance was broad and confusing.

"I recognize that this is confusing," Walensky said before encouraging eligible workers to make a "personal decision" about getting a booster depending on their exposure levels.

Walensky also noted the guidance was intended for "people who are working all of the time with many different people who might be unvaccinated," but it does not include others such as parents who are surrounded by their unvaccinated children.  

"If you're in a high-risk position, I would absolutely recommend you get the boost," Walensky added. 

Walensky's remarks follow the announcement that third-dose boosters would be recommended for older Americans above age 65 and people at higher risk for COVID-19. 

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