President Biden said Friday that coronavirus booster shots for millions of Americans who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will begin immediately and urged those eligible for a third shot to get one quickly to fortify their protection to the dangerous Delta variant that swept through the country this summer.
Mr. Biden spoke just hours after the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially endorsed a Pfizer booster for older adults, many people with underlying health conditions, and frontline workers — like teachers and nurses — whose jobs put them at higher risk of contracting the disease.
Mr. Biden stated that people who have received more than six months’ worth of vaccine can receive a booster.
“My message today is this: If you’ve got the Pfizer vaccine, you got the Pfizer vaccine in January, February, March of this year, and you’re over 65 years of age, go get the booster,” He said. “Or, if you’re in a have a medical condition like diabetes, or you’re a frontline worker like a health care worker or a teacher, you can get a free booster.”
Friday morning Dr. Rochelle Walensky (C.D.C.) made a decision to overrule a recommendation by her agency’s panel of scientific advisers. director, overruled a recommendation by her agency’s panel of scientific advisers that had refused to endorse booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for frontline workers. Dr. Walensky’s highly unusual move aligned C.D.C. policy with the Food and Drug Administration’s endorsements over her own agency’s advisers.
The C.D.C.’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Thursday recommended the boosters for a wide range of Americans, including tens of millions of older adults, and younger people at high risk for the disease. They excluded teachers, health care workers and other people whose jobs could put them at high risk. That put their recommendations at odds with the F.D.A.’s authorization of booster shots for all adults with a high occupational risk.
Dr. Walensky’s decision bolstered Mr. Biden’s campaign to give a broad segment of Americans access to boosters. The White House has been criticized for rushing the regulatory process. The C.D.C. panel was not asked to judge whether people who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should receive the additional doses, which have not been authorized by the F.D.A.
The advisers also wrestled with the practicalities of endorsing a booster shot for only Pfizer-BioNTech recipients, when close to half of vaccinated Americans have received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Moderna’s booster authorization may arrive in a few days to weeks. The company applied to the F.D.A. for authorization of a booster shot carrying half the dosage given in the first two shots, which has complicated the agency’s deliberations.
Some experts in global health have voiced concern at the Biden administration pushing booster shots while the majority of the world still hasn’t received their first dose. Analysts noted that even though the United States distributes booster shot, there should still have a significant amount of vaccine supply in the country. They asked the government to start sending extra doses out.
Biden again complained about resistance to the vaccine in his remarks.
“It’s caused by the fact that despite Americans having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 locations, we still have over 70 million Americans who fail to get a single shot,” He said. “And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine with false information the fight against Covid-19.”
“This is totally unacceptable,” He said.