President Joe Biden said Friday that his administration was looking into whether to shorten the window of the planned Covid-19 booster shot program, something he discussed with Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a visit at the White House.
“We’re considering the advice you’ve given that we should start earlier,” Biden said.
Biden noted that the US booster program is expected to start September 20, pending sign off from the US Food and Drug Administration and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Earlier this month, US health officials announced that booster shots would be offered starting eight months after an individual’s second dose of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. There is not yet enough data to make plans for a Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster, although they’re being studied.
“The question raised is should it be shorter than eight months, should it be almost five months? That’s being discussed. I spoke with Dr. Fauci this morning about that,” Biden said, referring to Anthony Fauci, his chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said later on Friday that “nothing has changed” about the federal government’s decision to recommend Covid-19 booster shots to eligible Americans eight months after they are fully vaccinated. “The President would rely on any guidance by the CDC and the FDA and his health and medical experts. That guidance continues to be eight months. That has not changed,” she said at a White House briefing.
Israel was one of the first countries to announce a booster shot program last month. Currently, anyone more than 30 years of age in Israel is eligible for a third dose of vaccine at least five months after their second dose.
The Biden administration’s plans to administer booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine are an effort to “stay ahead” of the coronavirus, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said during a virtual White House Covid-19 briefing around the announcement.
Murthy emphasized that coronavirus vaccines still appear to be effective in protecting against severe Covid-19, hospitalization and death – but data suggest that protection against mild and moderate disease appears to decline over time, and US health officials want to boost protection before it declines against severe disease.
This story has been updated with additional information.
Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.