By Samantha Flom
President Joe Biden told reporters Friday that his administration will “likely” recommend that everyone get a new COVID-19 vaccine.
“I signed off this morning on a proposal we have to present to the Congress, a request for additional funding for a new vaccine—that is necessary, that works,” he said while taking questions from reporters outside a pilates facility in South Lake Tahoe, California.
“And tentatively, not decided finally yet, tentatively it is recommended—it is likely to be recommended—that everybody get it, no matter whether they got it before,” he added.
The president’s comments tracked with those of a White House official who advised reporters on Aug. 20 that the administration would be encouraging all Americans to get a COVID-19 booster shot this fall.
Since early July, COVID-19 hospitalizations have been on the rise domestically, with three new variants of the disease spreading across the country.
In April, the administration announced that the government was spending more than $5 billion to ramp up the development of new COVID-19 vaccines and treatments through Project NextGen.
“While our vaccines are still very effective at preventing serious illness and death, they are less capable of reducing infections and transmission over time,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said in announcing the project on April 10.
“New variants and loss of immunity over time could continue to challenge our healthcare systems in the coming years.”
Moderna has said preliminary data show its vaccine to be effective against the new “Eris” and “Fornax” COVID-19 subvariants in humans.
The company—alongside Novavax, Pfizer, and German partner BioNTech SE—has also created a new version of its vaccine targeted at combating the XBB.1.5 subvariant.
According to CNBC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials told reporters Thursday that the vaccines are expected to become available to the public in mid-September, though they are still pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
An independent CDC advisory committee is scheduled to meet on Sept. 12 to vote on recommended guidelines for eligibility for the new COVID-19 jabs.
During the press briefing, CDC and FDA officials advised that both agencies intended to urge Americans to get an updated COVID-19 shot, as well as the flu shot and the recently approved RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) vaccine produced by GlaxoSmithKline.
“Vaccination is going to continue to be key this year because immunity wanes and because the COVID-19 virus continues to change,” a CDC official said.
Experts Caution Not to Give in to Fear
With masks reappearing and hospitalizations on the rise, some health care experts are urging calm amid heightened buzz in the media about new COVID variants.
“When people ask me, ‘Is this really going to start happening all over again,’ my comment to them is, ‘I don’t know if this is real or not, but I do know that fear makes people sick,’” Priscilla Romans, a former nurse and current patient advocate, told The Epoch Times in a recent interview.
Ms. Romans runs Graith Care, a Texas-based patient-advocacy business that provides patients with support and guidance to better navigate the health care system.
“My concern with these headlines coming out is that people are still fearful,” she said. “Right from the beginning, people were told to isolate when they shouldn’t have been isolating.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Richard Bartlett, a Texas-based physician, said he believed the push for new vaccines to be less about public health than about public control.
“This is clearly history repeating itself as far as an attempt to control the masses,” Dr. Bartlett, who was involved in efforts to get the FDA to release Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine data, recently told The Epoch Times.
The vaccines, masks, lockdowns, and social distancing were never supported by science, he said, and therefore should not be forced upon the people now.
“I think this is another power grab, and I’m concerned that we’re going to see more of the same unless the people demand basic patient rights for their children, parents, and spouses.”
Matt McGregor, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.