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Biden says U.S. well being officers are contemplating Covid booster vaccinations after 5 months

United States President Joe Biden will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on August 27, 2021.

Nicholas Comb | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said U.S. regulators are considering giving Covid-19 booster vaccinations five months after completing the primary series and postponing the expected schedule for a third vaccination by about three months.

Biden, who spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday, said health officials are considering following this country’s lead on boosters.

“We are considering the advice you have given that we should start earlier,” Biden said, adding that officials are discussing whether the schedule should be shorter. “It should only be five months and that is being discussed.”

The booster vaccination approval is expected to come sometime around Labor Day after federal health officials have time to review data from other countries.

The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins said last week that data released by Israel on the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines over time had prompted US health leaders to reconsider their position on booster vaccines. Israel released new data on Aug. 16 showing a reduction in the effectiveness of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine against serious illness in people over 65 who were fully vaccinated in January or February.

Israel released more data on Sunday showing that a booster dose offers four times as much protection against infection by the Delta variant than the previous two-dose therapy in people over 60, Reuters reported, citing data from the Israeli Ministry of Health. The booster dose was also five to six times more effective in preventing hospitalization or serious illness.

About 1.5 million Israeli residents have received a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Later in the day, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki explained Biden’s comments, saying he would rely on CDC and FDA officials to make changes to formal U.S. health guidelines, which currently state that booster doses are given after eight months should be.

“So I want to be very clear. If they were to change their leadership based on data for a certain group, he would of course stick to it,” Psaki said at a press conference on Friday. “But for the folks watching at home, for all of you reporting this, nothing has changed about the eight month timeline in relation to the boosters.”

Other countries, including the Dominican Republic, Hungary and Germany, have either already started, are about to, or are considering booster vaccinations.

Pfizer said Wednesday that a booster dose of its vaccine caused a tripling of neutralizing antibodies in an unpublished study as the company battles for FDA approval for its booster doses, according to Reuters.

The study also found that side effects after a third dose are the same as after a second dose. Common side effects include headache, lethargy, mild pain at the injection site, and fever.

The distribution of the booster is expected to begin September 20 pending final approval from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Biden government and vaccine manufacturers have indicated that there should be enough doses for any fully vaccinated adult aiming for a third dose.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the timing of when a potential third dose of Covid could be administered. Five months after the full vaccination.

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