The White House is seen on July 3, 2021 in Washington, DC.
CNN  — 

White House officials on Wednesday insisted the US could begin offering Covid-19 booster shots to fully vaccinated Americans in the fall while also continuing its efforts to help vaccinate the rest of the world, stressing the importance of doing both simultaneously to end the global pandemic.

“Look, I do not accept the idea that we have to choose between America and the world,” US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told reporters at a White House Covid-19 briefing on Wednesday.

Murthy continued: “We clearly see our responsibility to both, and that we’ve got to do everything we can to protect people here at home while recognizing that tamping down the pandemic across the world and getting people vaccinated is going to be key to preventing the rise of future variants.”

The surgeon general was responding to a quote from the executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, Mike Ryan, who said the Biden administration’s booster shot plan is like “planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets while we’re leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket.”

White House Covid-19 response director Jeff Zients pushed back against this assertion and said at Wednesday’s briefing: “We’re already proving that we can protect our own people here at home as we help others.”

“This is a situation where we’re going to do both. We’re going to protect the American people and we’re going to do more and more to help vaccinate the world,” Zients said.

Zients said the administration was planning to offer twice as many Covid-19 doses to countries abroad than booster shots in the US in the coming months. He said in this time frame the US was expecting to dole out about 100 million booster shots in the US and more than 200 million shots to countries abroad.

He noted as the US continues to deliver vaccinations at home, the administration has already shipped more than 115 million Covid-19 vaccine doses abroad, which is more than what all other countries have donated combined. On Tuesday, the US started shipping the first doses of the 500 million Pfizer vaccines President Joe Biden pledged to purchase and donate to countries around the world.

The Biden administration announced a plan on Wednesday to offer booster shots for all fully vaccinated US adults beginning the week of September 20, subject to authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and sign off from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Americans 18 years or older would become eligible for a booster shot eight months after their second shot of Moderna or Pfizer.

Officials noted they anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said they expected more data on J&J in the coming weeks.

The administration’s booster announcement was also criticized by the ONE Campaign, an international nonprofit fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases. The group was co-founded in 2004 by Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter Bono and activist and attorney Bobby Shriver.

“While we understand the Biden administration’s goal to further protect Americans, today’s decision will further exacerbate global vaccine inequities and prolong the pandemic at home and abroad. In order to save lives, reduce the emergence of variants, and stop the spread of COVID-19, the US and other wealthy countries must immediately share more doses globally,” said Sarah Swinehart, a spokesperson for the ONE Campaign.

Swinehart said: “It’s outrageous that a healthy, vaccinated individual will be able to get a third shot before the elderly and health workers in low-income countries can get a single dose.”

The Biden administration’s plans to administer booster doses are an effort to “stay ahead” of the coronavirus, Murthy said at the briefing.

Murthy emphasized that coronavirus vaccines still appear to be effective in protecting against severe Covid-19, hospitalization and death, but said data suggest that protection against mild and moderate disease appears to be declining over time.

The move was also met with praise, including by Dr. David Holtgrave, the dean of the University at Albany’s School of Public Health. Holtgrave helped lead a New York study released Wednesday that showed Covid-19 vaccine continue to provide strong protection against hospitalizations and deaths.

“I am supportive of the decision to recommend boosters especially if we can simultaneously increase our global vaccination efforts as well,” Holtgrave told CNN.

He continued: “I was pleased to see more data reviewed and made available quickly for the public. I was also pleased to see that the decision not only looked at where we are today but where we are very likely to be under reasonable assumptions in the weeks ahead, and that a recommendation was made that would help us get ahead of an even worse trajectory. This type of forward thinking is important in addressing an infectious disease.”

CNN’s Jacqueline Howard, Maggie Fox and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.