The Miami Herald on COVID-19 booster shots and confusion

By President Biden’s predictions, fully vaccinated American adults would be able to receive a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine starting Monday.

It looks like the president jumped the gun, setting an artificial deadline that has left many Americans confused and state health officials scrambling to manage expectations. As we learned throughout this pandemic, confusion and mixed messaging usually lead to distrust in public health authorities, which already is killing Americans who don’t trust vaccines and expert guidance.

The president’s plan is bogged down in criticism after a Food and Drug Administration advisory group recommended against booster shots for anyone over 16 on Friday. Citing a lack of safety data and doubts about the value of mass boosters, the panel of outside experts recommended a third shot only for people over 65, at higher risk of severe disease or at high risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

That still accounts for millions of Americans, but it’s a far cry from the president’s message on Aug. 18 that “every fully vaccinated” adult would be eligible for a shot eight months after they finished their two-dose regimen of a Pfizer vaccine. During his speech, he carefully added a caveat: that his plan was “pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration” but what Americans heard is: “Boosters for everyone!”

The advisory group’s recommendation is not binding, and the FDA can choose to disregard it when it makes a decision, which is expected this week. But this has been dubbed by media outlets as a “heavy blow” and a “blowback” to Biden’s COVID-19 efforts. It leaves the impression that the president who vowed to “follow the experts” made a grand, but premature, policy announcement motivated by the need to shift public opinion during the same week his first major crisis began to unfold in Afghanistan. ...

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