The Biden administration may face hurdles as it prepares to disseminate third dose booster COVID-19 vaccines, with sources saying that booster shots could only be available to those who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The New York Times first reported that top public health officials, namely Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), met with White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients to say that only some of the recipients of the Pfizer vaccine could be eligible for a booster, rattling President Biden’s Sept. 20 rollout plan.
Biden initially said that those who had either Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccinations would be eligible for booster shots, with some vulnerable populations, like immunocompromised individuals or health care workers given priority.
Sources now say that regulators want more data on booster vaccinations to safely recommend boosters for a broader population.
Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer to secure full FDA approval for its vaccine. Previously it had emergency use authorization, along with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines.
Booster shots have been endorsed by multiple public health experts, including Anthony Fauci, as studies show waning immunity levels following the standard two-shot dosage.
Both Pfizer and Moderna are in the process of submitting clinical data to the FDA on its booster shots in search of emergency approval. In mid-August, the FDA approved additional vaccine doses for immunocompromised individuals who received full doses of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
CDC data indicates that 52.7 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 211 million recipients were inoculated with the Pfizer vaccination, beating out Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Recent polling shows about 75 percent of Americans are enthusiastic about booster vaccinations, but global organizations, namely the World Health Organization have pushed back on the rollout of booster shots as many countries struggle with vaccine inequity and attaining sufficient doses.