Boosters to be expanded to most vaccinated Americans: reports

The Biden administration is reportedly planning to announce that most Americans should receive a COVID-19 booster shot eight months after they have been fully vaccinated, expanding the pool of people who should get the extra doses beyond those with compromised immune systems.

The New York Times reported that the U.S. could begin offering a third shot as soon as mid-September, citing two administration officials familiar with the discussions. The Times reported that health officials “envision” administering Americans the same vaccine they were initially given.

The Washington Post reported that the boosters wouldn’t be administered until an application by Pfizer for additional shots is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.

Biden officials will reportedly announce the new guidance as soon as this week.

The Times and Post reports came days after the FDA authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for certain people with compromised immune systems.

Pfizer on Monday announced that it submitted phase one data to the FDA in an effort to get a third booster shot authorized in the U.S.

Nursing home residents and health care workers will likely receive the booster shots first, according to the Times, with older individuals following close behind.

The decision that boosters are needed to enhance protection against COVID-19 came after “intense discussions” between high-ranking officials who studied data from the U.S. and other countries to look into the effectiveness of the vaccines, according to the Post.

The Times reported that Biden administration officials have been increasingly concerned about statistics from Israel, which indicate that the effectiveness of the vaccines against severe disease has waned for elderly individuals who were inoculated in January or February.

Israel has been administering boosters for more than a month now. The third shot was initially available for people with weak immune systems but that eligibility was expanded last week, with the country now allowing people 50 years and older to receive the extra dose.

The Post reported that in recent days, data began to show decreased immunity against COVID-19, which led to a change in messaging.

Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, signaled last week that the U.S. would eventually come around to administering booster shots, saying during an interview on NBC’s “Today” show that Americans would “inevitably” need a third COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Biden officials had maintained for most of the summer that booster shots were not needed for the general public.

Just days ago, when the FDA authorized a third booster shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with compromised immune systems, it said the general public did not need a third dose at the moment.

But health officials had left the door open to third doses, stating that they may be needed eventually.

In early July, a joint statement by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said those who have been fully vaccinated did not need booster shots “at this time.”

“People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating in the country such as Delta,” the statement read. “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

— Updated at 11:59 p.m.

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