What 6 health experts are saying about booster shots in the general population

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The White House said it will begin distributing COVID-19 vaccines to the general public Sept. 20, but the plan has yet to receive approval from the FDA or CDC, and health experts appear torn about whether now is the time to give booster shots to everyone in the U.S. 

What six health experts have recently said about COVID-19 booster shots: 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, PhD, director-general of the WHO: "There are countries with less than 2 percent vaccination coverage, most of them in Africa, who are not even getting their first and second dose. And starting with boosters, especially giving it to healthy populations, is really not right," he said Sept. 14, CNBC reported. 

Marion Gruber, PhD, director of the FDA's Office of Vaccines Research & Review and Phil Krause, MD, deputy director of the vaccine office: The two leaders and 16 other scientists wrote in a Sept. 13 paper published in The Lancet that booster shots are unnecessary for people who are not immunocompromised.

"Even if some gain can ultimately be obtained from boosting, it will not outweigh the benefits of providing initial protection to the unvaccinated," the authors wrote, pointing out that billions of people in other countries remain unvaccinated.

Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House chief medical adviser: Dr. Fauci said Sept. 14 that he disagrees with the paper published in The Lancet, calling it "controversial" and saying it conflates things that aren't supposed to be conflated, The Hill reported. He argued that the U.S. can give booster shots to the general population without sacrificing vaccines needed by the rest of the world.

"You can do both. The way we're doing in this country, you can have a program to give booster, in this case third shots for people who've gotten the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, you can get them boosted if you put a considerable amount of resources and effort into getting low- and middle-income people vaccinated. And that's exactly what we're doing," he said, according to The Hill.

"If you look at the data, the data are strongly suggestive in this country, and more than just suggestive in Israel, that you have a waning of immunity among people across age groups, not just the very, very elderly, you have clearly waning of immunity against infection and clear-cut indication of waning of immunity against severe disease," he added. 

Rochelle Walensky, MD, CDC director & Janet Woodcock, MD, acting FDA commissioner: The two leaders recommended Sept. 2 that the U.S. delay its booster rollout because the agencies need more time to collect and review the data on booster shots' safety and efficacy. The FDA's vaccine advisory committee is set to meet Sept. 17 to discuss a third dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, just three days before the federal government said it will begin distributing boosters to the general public.

 

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