Top Biden administration officials are weighing a plan to let all adults get a second round of coronavirus booster shots, two people with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO.
The deliberations stem from growing concerns over the potential for a summer Covid surge driven by the more transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.5, as hospitalizations rise nationwide.
The U.S. is currently averaging more than 103,000 new infections a day, a figure that’s remained relatively steady over the past month. But the number of Americans hospitalized by the disease has risen significantly over the last two weeks — an increase that’s worried White House and health department officials, and accelerated discussions over whether the administration should encourage more people to get a second booster before the fall.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends that people over 50 and those who are immunocompromised get additional boosters. So far, fewer than 28 percent of Americans in that age group have received their second booster.
The plan under discussion would open eligibility to adults under 50 years old, allowing them to seek a shot now — with the expectation they’d still be able to get another booster when reformulated versions of the vaccine roll out later in October.
The Washington Post first reported the booster plan. The White House declined to comment.
The discussions are still in early stages and would require official sign-off from the CDC and Food and Drug Administration. The CDC and FDA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
But in recent days, senior public health officials, including Covid response coordinator Ashish Jha and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, have expressed support for the idea, one person with knowledge of the matter said.
“We have the vaccine to do this,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “But the question is, will it temper the current increase from BA.5 in terms of mild-to-moderate disease?”
David Lim and Sarah Owermohle contributed to this report.