With the COVID-19 Delta variant getting stronger by the day, the Biden administration is calling for booster shots to be made available to Americans to bolster their original vaccinations. The White House says the launch date for that initiative is September 20.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration has had booster shots in its planning processes for months and that the U.S. has “enough supply” to serve the “eligible population.”
Who gets the booster shot first?
In a joint statement, the top echelon of the Biden health team said people would need boosters starting eight months after they received their second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
There’s currently no official pecking order once the boosters begin on September 20, but those who were fully vaccinated early on during the pandemic -- including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors -- are likely candidates, the officials said. They added that the plan is for booster doses to be delivered directly to residents of long-term care facilities.
"Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability," the officials said in a statement.
The only two hurdles
The move is expected to be rubber-stamped by each agency, but it is subject to an independent evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assure that the safety and success of a booster dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are "based on a thorough review of the evidence."
While a final determination is yet to be made, officials said they expect booster shots will likely also be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, they said that determination should be made in the next few weeks.
The timeline on that won’t throw anything off for recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it was not made available until March -- so booster shots wouldn’t be needed until at least November.