The Biden administration expects to begin a COVID-19 booster shot campaign in September that will urge those over 50 to get the omicron-targeted shot as soon as it is available, according to The New York Times.
Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna have both promised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that they can deliver the reformulated vaccines by then, people familiar with the deliberations told the Times.
The administration plans to push the boosters for those over age 50 first, hoping to protect older, more vulnerable people against the BA.5 omicron subvariant.
The White House has decided that it would not yet recommend boosters for those younger than 50.
The timing of the booster has become a balancing act for the White House and government health agencies. The FDA is observing that the immunity many people have gotten from either being infected with the virus or getting vaccinated is waning at the same time that the most contagious version of the virus, the omicron subvariant BA.5, is responsible for a majority of cases in the United States.
In internal deliberations, the Times reported that some senior health officials argued for increasing the eligibility for younger people to get a second booster.
With the exception of those who are immunocompromised, most people younger than age 50 aren’t eligible for a second booster, according to the CDC.
“I think there should be flexibility and permissiveness in at least allowing” a second booster for younger Americans, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who advises the Biden administration on COVID-19 issues, said earlier this month.
The White House COVID-19 response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, said getting a booster if you are eligible “could save your life.”
“If you have not gotten a vaccine shot in the year 2022, if you have not gotten one this year, please go get another vaccine shot,” Jha said earlier this month. “It could save your life.”
Second boosters have been authorized for U.S. adults 50 and up, as well as certain people with weakened immune systems, since March.
The CDC has said that those over 50 or who are immunocompromised should get a second booster four months after the first booster. The agency has released a “booster calculator” to help people determine when to get a booster shot. (Click “Find Out When You Can Get Your Booster”) on this page.