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Biden administration pushes booster shots as second pandemic winter approaches

Chris Megerian and Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — U.S. public health officials approved making booster shots available to all adults on Friday, opening a new phase in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans brace for another winter of rising infections and hospitalizations.

It’s a step that several states, including California, have already taken amid concerns that the effectiveness of vaccines received earlier this year could be waning just as more people are traveling for the holidays and gathering with each other indoors.

The expanded availability of booster shots could bolster President Joe Biden’s efforts to limit the pandemic’s devastation, which has evaded his attempts to bring it to an end and bogged down his administration.

“The pubic just wants normal again,” said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. “If it doesn’t work, he has a big political problem on his hands.”

The back-to-back decisions by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday will simplify the process for Americans who are seeking additional protection from the coronavirus.

Although boosters were previously available to older Americans and those at high risk of infection, now anyone who is at least 18 years old can get another shot as long as it’s been six months since their previous dose.

 

The expanded authorization of booster shots was handled swiftly by an administration that has struggled to find ways to bring the pandemic under control, despite making vaccines widely available and free of charge.

More than 60 million Americans are eligible to get vaccinated but have not yet gotten a shot, and the more contagious Delta variant continues to spread through the country. An average of 1,000 people die from COVID-19 every day.

With cases on the rise again, the Biden administration has purchased 10 million doses of Pfizer’s antiviral pill for treating the disease. The pill has not yet been approved by the FDA, but clinical trials have been promising and Biden wants to make it available for free once authorized.

“This treatment could prove to be another critical tool in our arsenal that will accelerate our path out of the pandemic,” Biden said in a statement.

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