Health officials have advocated for a pause in the Biden administration’s COVID-19 booster shot rollout due to insufficient data, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.
In a meeting with White House officials, including White House pandemic coordinator Jeffery Zients, last week, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Janet Woodcock, along with Rochelle P. Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said recommendations for booster shots may not be complete by the White House’s timeline.
The agencies told the White House they may only be able to recommend booster shots for some individuals and still have to determine if they will recommend the shots for all of the vaccines.
President BidenJoe BidenSpotlight turns to GOP’s McCarthy in Jan. 6 probe Biden visits union hall to mark Labor Day Biden approves disaster funds for NJ, NY after Ida flooding MORE announced in August the government was aiming to recommend booster shots for those who got their vaccine more than eight months ago on Sept. 20.
Health officials are still debating booster shots to determine when a person might need them. In addition, poorer countries are urging richer countries to donate vaccine doses before starting booster shots.
A White House spokesperson told the Times last week that the administration is waiting for approval from the FDA and recommendations from the CDC before rolling out booster shots.
“We always said we would follow the science, and this is all part of a process that is now underway,” spokesperson Chris Meagher said.
“When that approval and recommendation are made, we will be ready to implement the plan our nation’s top doctors developed so that we are staying ahead of this virus,” Meagher added.
Individuals who heard about the meeting between Zients and the health officials said it is not clear how Zients responded to the agencies’ comments, according to the Times.
Other countries such as Israel have already begun giving booster shots to their citizens. The European Union has decided against giving booster shots, saying it wants to focus on giving more people their first shots.
So far, the U.S. has only offered additional shots to immunocompromised individuals who didn’t form the high amount of antibodies needed from the first two doses.
The Hill has reached out to the White House, FDA and CDC for comment.