CDC Guidance Indicates That Brewers Should Qualify for Booster Shots

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published COVID-19 vaccine booster shot guidance for people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The guidance aims to identify recipients of the Pfizer vaccine eligible for a booster shot six months or more after receiving their initial vaccination.

In addition to other at-risk groups (e.g., persons over 65 years of age), the CDC’s recommendation applies to (emphasis added):

People aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on their individual benefits and risks.

The guidance then provides a list of occupational and institutional workers eligible under the guidance, with the explicit caveat that recommendations may change based on additional data. Workers who should be eligible for a booster based on “occupational or institutional setting” include (emphasis added):

  • First responders (healthcare workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff)
  • Education staff (teachers, support staff, daycare workers)
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Corrections workers
  • U.S. Postal Service workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Grocery store workers

While state and local vaccination programs are not bound to follow CDC guidance, most look to the CDC when implementing their own programs. As such, the CDC guidance strongly suggests that brewery employees working in brewing and packaging functions should qualify for boosters, as they are both food workers and manufacturing workers.

Restaurant and other retail workers at breweries will present a closer call and, as occurred during the initial vaccine rollout, will likely be subject to some interpretation by state and/or local officials. Nevertheless, looking to state and local decisions during the initial vaccine rollout to “essential workers” as a guide, it is reasonable to anticipate that health officials in many states will include all brewery employees within those eligible for a Pfizer vaccine booster. Of course, brewers should check with their state or local health officials for complete certainty about eligibility in their jurisdiction.