- Dr. Fauci says that people should not get booster shots until they are eligible.
- Some people have been seeking the third shot before the official sign-off.
- The Biden administration had planned to roll out boosters this week, but failed to get CDC and FDA backing.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci has advised people against getting COVID-19 booster shots before they are officially eligible.
The comments come after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused to back booster shots for everybody aged 16 or above.
“We recommend that people wait until you get to the point where you fall into the category where it’s recommended,” Fauci, the White House chief medical advisor, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
As Insider and others have previously reported, Americans had been seeking booster shots before their approval. Fauci said that “people will be doing that. But that’s human nature. Not much you can do about that.”
Confusing messaging around the booster roll out
Americans couldn’t be blamed for being confused over the messaging around boosters.
The White House had planned for booster shots to be rolled out for most Americans by Sept 20, with people getting a booster eight months after they were fully vaccinated.
The World Health Organization and, reportedly, some FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials had pushed back against the plan. The White House has previously said the rollout depended on the FDA and the CDC signing off on the plan.
In a meeting on Friday, the FDA did not give its go-ahead for boosters for most people, saying that the data only supported the use of boosters in people 65 or older, as well as people aged between 16 and 65 who have a pre-existing condition.
The FDA’s decision to not recommend universal approval is “not the end of the story,” Fauci told CNN on Sunday, saying that data “will be coming” shortly to support boosters.
Head of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, also said he would be “surprised” if the boosters weren’t expanded to more people in the coming weeks.
Experts are split on whether boosters are needed
Data shows that vaccines are still widely protective against severe disease and death. But some real-world data suggests that vaccine efficacy is waning over time.
Not all experts support rolling out boosters for most people. Last week, 18 leading scientists, including two outgoing FDA officials, argued that there was not enough data to support the use of boosters for all.
Experts have previously told Insider that it’s not clear that boosters are necessary.
Fauci last month argued that by giving boosters despite the scarcity of supporting data, the US would be keeping “ahead of the virus” and making sure protection remains “high and prolonged.”
Some countries have not waited to roll out boosters. Israel, which started giving boosters in early August, now requires boosters six months after the second dose. If people fail to get a booster, they lose access to the vaccine passport, which gives entry to non-essential venues like cafes and bars.