‘If you’re eligible, can you wait?’ The CDC is saying to think again about a second COVID booster. Is it rationing vaccines?
The government wants you to wait for the fourth shot and they won't say exactly why.
Americans who are eligible for a second COVID booster shot -- including those aged 50 and older and those who are immunocompromised -- may want to consider waiting before getting a fourth shot, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday when they launched an online tool to help individuals determine if they qualify.
According to the agency's booster guide website, which was updated Friday, those eligible for a second booster shot should weigh the likelihood that they will, due to pre-existing health conditions and potential community exposure, " become very ill” from the virus.
"If you're eligible, can you wait?" the guidance asks, urging those who have had COVID-19 in the past three months or who feel "that you would get a second booster now, that you won't get another one in the future." want a refresher" to consider waiting it out.
"A second booster dose could be more important in fall 2022 or when a new vaccine for a future COVID-19 variant becomes available," the guidelines say.
People age 50 and older, people age 12 and older with compromised immune systems, and people who have received two doses of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine are eligible for a second booster shot, according to the CDC.
Updated guidance encourages, but does not explain, those eligible to reconsider based on "the benefits and risks of a second booster shot." The CDC on Friday did not respond to questions from Fortune about the potential risk and benefits of a second booster shot, specifically, or whether there are concerns about the continued effectiveness of current vaccines, particularly given immune-avoiding omicron subvariants.
It also didn't respond to questions about potential supply issues because Congress failed to receive renewed COVID funding. The government is running out of money to fund its efforts to fight the virus, and a $22.5 billion request by the Biden administration in March to fund boosters and variant-specific vaccines, among other things, has been slashed to $10 billion US dollars reduced. But it's still in limbo, caught in immigration policy, The Hill reported this week.
Meanwhile, Politico reported Friday that the White House is preparing to ration COVID vaccines amid the ongoing funding gap.
“Among the sacrifices being weighed is restricting access to its next-generation vaccine to only the highest-risk Americans — rationing that would have been unthinkable just a year ago, when the White House was developing it and rolling it out Vaccine availability as the most touted way out of the pandemic," Politico's Adam Cancryn wrote, adding that White House officials are "increasingly coming to the conclusion that these kinds of difficult decisions need to be made soon."
A March 15 White House memo warned that failure by Congress to fund additional COVID efforts will have "serious consequences as we will not be prepared for a future surge."
COVID cases in the US have risen sharply in recent weeks and hospital admissions have also increased. Earlier this month, the White House warned of an impending spike this fall and winter that could more than double the number of COVID infections the US has recorded so far.
"Without funding, the United States will not have enough supplemental booster vaccines or variant-specific vaccines for all Americans when needed," the March White House memo warned.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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