Biden officials weighing shorter timeline for booster shots

President Biden on Friday said that discussions are underway over whether COVID-19 booster shots should be administered five months after second vaccine doses, a shorter timeline than the eight months previously discussed by health officials.

“This booster program is going to start here, September the 20th, pending approval of the [Food and Drug Administration] and a [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] committee of outside experts,” Biden said ahead of his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

“And the question raised is should it be shorter than eight months, should it be more or less five months, and that’s being discussed. I spoke to Dr. Fauci this morning about that,” Biden added, referring to White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci.

The administration earlier this month outlined a plan to give out booster shots starting Sept. 20, recommending it for most Americans who have received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. Health officials have said people would need boosters beginning eight months after their second dose of either vaccine.

Officials have also said they expect booster shots will be available for those who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine but are examining the evidence.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reviewing booster dose efficacy, and approval of the booster shots is expected to come in the next few weeks.

“The president would rely on any guidance by the CDC and FDA and his health and medical experts. That guidance continues to be eight months; that has not changed,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters when asked about Biden’s comments.

If they changed their guidance the president “would of course abide by that,” Psaki said, reiterating that nothing has changed.

Biden told Bennett before their meeting Friday in the Oval Office that he “leads the most diverse government in Israeli history and we’ve got a big agenda today, starting with COVID.”

“Our successful vaccination programs — and we’ve talked a little bit, we’re going to continue to talk about the issue of booster shots,” he said. “You started your program a little early and met with great results. We’re going to start mid-September but we’re considering the advice you’ve given that we should start earlier.”

Israel started administering third doses of the Pfizer vaccine to older Israelis late last month, and Bennett received his booster last week.

Tags Anthony Fauci Booster shots COVID-19 booster shots Jen Psaki Joe Biden

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