WASHINGTON: Federal health authorities are discussing shortening the timeline for COVID-19 booster shots to allow additional doses sooner than the eight-month window officials are targeting, President Joe Biden said on Friday (Aug 27).
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that US health regulators could approve a third COVID-19 shot for adults beginning at least six months after full vaccination, instead of the previously announced eight-month gap.
"The question raised is: should it be shorter than eight months, should it be as little as 5 months? That's being discussed," Biden told reporters at the White House, adding that he had discussed the issue with his chief medical officer, Dr Anthony Fauci, earlier on Friday.
Biden noted that the US booster program was "promising" and on track to start in mid-September, pending regulatory approval.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said later that official US guidance remains at eight months after the last vaccine shot.
Nothing has changed related to the eight-month timeline, Psaki said during a briefing with reporters.
Top US health officials, in a separate COVID briefing on Friday, said US cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise amid the fast-spreading Delta variant. Vaccination rates were also higher, they said, with half of children aged 12 to 17 having received at least one shot as schools begin the new academic year.
Deaths and hospitalisations up 11 per cent and 6 per cent respectively over the past 7 days nationwide, with cases up 3per cent over the past week, said US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr Rochelle Walensky.