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Biden poised to urge Covid-19 booster shots starting September

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – The United States government is poised to offer coronavirus booster shots as soon as next month, with the country facing a renewed wave of infections fuelled by the Delta variant.

Biden administration officials are finalising a plan expected to recommend booster shots eight months after people received their second dose, according to two people familiar with the deliberations who asked not to be identified. The plan is not yet finalised but an announcement could come as soon as this week, they said.

If adopted, the plan could mean booster shots would start as early as September. The proposal would be subject to authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration, the people said.

Biden administration officials have long said they were preparing for the possibility of booster shots, but so far they have been authorised only for immunocompromised people. Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week that Americans should not seek a booster until they are eligible.

The administration would offer a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, depending on what the patient previously received, the people said. The plan was reported earlier by the New York Times.

The booster shots will begin with high-risk groups such as front-line workers and the elderly, who got their shots first and thus would hit the eight-month marker soonest, one person said.

It was not immediately clear what would be offered to those who received Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine; that shot was authorised only in February, meaning that if the eight-month timeline holds, recipients would not be eligible for boosters until late October at the earliest. The administration is waiting on data to decide how to proceed on J&J, the people said.

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