Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, gave an update Wednesday about the populations that should be able to safely get a vaccine, including immunosuppressed Americans and pregnant women.
Dr. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, clarified guidance for people who are under 65 but have underlying medical conditions, who the CDC recommends be vaccinated in the next phase — phase 1C — which some states are approaching.
He said that people who are immunosuppressed, including those who take medications that suppress the immune system, should still plan to get a vaccine when it’s available.
"I want to set the record straight for these individuals, because they are more vulnerable to more severe effects if they do get infected," Fauci said in a briefing with the White House COVID-19 Response Team. "There is no safety reason not to get vaccinated."
Dr. Fauci said that includes Americans who may be taking glucocorticoids, corticosteroids, or other medications that impact the immune system.
"The only potential downside might be that you might not have as robust a response to the vaccine, as if you had a normal immune response," Fauci added. "But clearly, getting a less than optimal response is much better than no response at all."
Every state has its own vaccination schedule, and some counties vary as well, meaning that Phase 1C will come at a different time for different areas. According to CDC guidelines, the phase is recommended to include additional essential workers and Americans 16 to 65 who have underlying medical conditions and may be at risk of severe COVID-19.
Fauci also addressed two groups that weren’t studied in the first trials of the vaccines: Pregnant women and children under 16.
"Approximately 20,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated with no red flags," Fauci said. "This is being monitored by the CDC and the FDA."
Dr. Fauci said there would be additional clinical trials of pregnant women, plus more studies of children.
Pfizer began enrolling children ages 12 to 15 in a trial in late 2020, and the company announced that the study became fully enrolled last month.
Moderna announced its own study of children 12 to 17 in December, but it’s still in the process of recruiting participants. The company’s vaccine has been authorized for adults only.