The COVID-19 vaccine, and the pandemic in general, has taken a backseat over the past month or so.
However, that doesn’t mean that the Biden administration has forgotten about it, as according to Fox News, the White House is reportedly planning to roll out a new program that would allow people age 50 and up to receive a second booster shot, meaning some 97 million Americans will likely be urged to receive a fourth vaccination.
On Friday, The New York Times broke the story, adding that the program will be geared toward that age group without”recommending outright” that they take a second booster.
Not surprisingly, the White House is reportedly also worried about how to sell the program to the American public, given the massive backlash over vaccine mandates.
Likely due to the predicted public reaction, there are reportedly a few versions of the new plan, as Politico recently reported a similar move, but one that would be aimed at senior citizens aged 65 and up.
Age group aside, the program is reportedly meant to be “an effort to better protect high-risk people and stave off a wave of hospitalizations should infections climb rapidly as a result of the spread of the Omicron subvariant, BA.2.”
As of now, only Americans with compromised immune systems have been eligible to receive a second booster shot.
The new subvariant of Omicron is reportedly more infectious than its parent variant, and already accounts for roughly 35% of cases in the United States, though COVID case counts have plummeted in recent months.
The White House, and some public health officials, fear a possible resurgence in America, as the subvariant has already surged in Europe, which tends to be a predecessor to a surge in the U.S.
While the United States can seem to afford to send billions to Ukraine and other countries, among other massive expenses, it appears that at this point, can’t “afford” to cover a fourth wave of boosters for the U.S. population.
“Right now, we don’t have enough money for fourth doses, if they’re called for – booster shots, additional booster shots for all Americans. We don’t have the funding, if we were to need a variant-specific vaccine in the future. Immediately, we don’t have money to order more of the very effective monoclonal treatments,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients recently said.
The Times reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could authorize the second booster shot as soon as the first week in April.