What the potential Covid-19 booster rollout could look like

6 min read
It's not clear if or when boosters doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be OK'd for fully vaccinated people in the United States, but state and local health departments across the United States are moving ahead with plans for a potential rollout next week.

Last month, US health officials announced plans for booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine to be offered starting the week of September 20, subject to sign-off from the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those conversations are getting underway this week, including a key meeting of FDA vaccine advisers on Friday, but the decision isn't a slam dunk, experts have said.

Still, those tasked with administering boosters can't wait for the details to be finalized.

"We don't want to be unprepared," Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN on Wednesday.

She said that local health departments are planning now to be ready after the FDA review's Pfizer data -- especially, as they already are "really overwhelmed" right now with responding to surges of Covid-19 cases, working to get the unvaccinated vaccinated, and preparing for the flu season.

The last thing local health officials need at the moment is more chaos or confusion, but many of their questions around boosters still have not been answered: "What is the interval for boosters? Is it any shorter than eight months at this point? What is the age cut-off? Will there be priority groupings?" Freeman said. "We don't want to appear uncoordinated on boosters."

What has to happen before boosters go into arms?

The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet this Friday to discuss whether data on Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine support the idea of giving a booster dose to people 16 and older about six months after they complete their second dose. And there will be more steps before boosters will be OK'd to go into arms of the general public.

"It's important to note that the FDA's role is really to say can we use this -- can we use this product or can we use this booster. It's the CDC who will decide whether or not they should be used," Dr. Anna Durbin,…
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
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