S. E. Williams |

On Friday, September 17, many Americans were surprised to learn approval for dissemination of COVID-19 booster shots for the general population did not receive the authorization the White House had led many to believe was imminent.

The public believed the approval was imminent in part due to comments by President Joe Biden and also due to a press release in mid-August, where Public health and medical experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a joint statement attributed to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Food and Drug Administration (FDA); National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. Anthony Fauci; Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health; Dr. David Kessler, Chief Science Officer for the COVID-19 Response; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Chair of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.

The statement read in part, “Recognizing that many vaccines are associated with a reduction in protection over time and acknowledging that additional vaccine doses could be needed to provide long lasting protection, we have been analyzing the scientific data closely from the United States and around the world to understand how long this protection will last and how we might maximize this protection.”

The statement further explained how the available data make it very clear that protection against COVID-19 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination and with the dominance of the Delta variant, they are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease.

Their assessment confirmed that  the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout.

The initial plan

For that reason, they concluded a booster shot would be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability. 

“We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall subject to FDA conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issuing booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence.”

The stated goal was to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose.

A sudden change of direction

Those plans changed late Friday, September 17, when after meeting late into the day,  the CDC Advisory Committee issued a very narrow booster shot recommendation. 

It ruled against a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for most Americans—at least for now but did recommend the booster shot for adults over the age of 65 and those who are high risk though it has yet to define who falls into the high-risk category.  

In the wake of this decision, White House chief medical adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci insisted on Sunday, this is not the end of the story.

Although the FDA is not required to follow the committee’s recommendation, it usually does.

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion  for civil rights and justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Stephannie has received awards for her investigative reporting and for her weekly  column, Keeping it Real. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com..