60 million Americans now eligible for Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots, Biden says

60 million Americans now eligible for Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots, Biden says
US President Joe Biden hosts a virtual coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Summit as part of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) from the South Court Auditorium in the White House complex in Washington, US, Sep 22, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

WASHINGTON: Some 60 million people in the United States are now eligible for a Pfizer booster shot against COVID-19, President Joe Biden said on Friday (Sep 24) as a regulatory marathon laying bare divisions within the scientific community on the issue came to a close.

In the end, US health authorities have recommended boosters for three categories of people: those 65 and older, those 18-64 with an underlying medical condition such as diabetes or obesity, and those who are especially exposed to the virus because of their work or where they live.

The last, at-risk group is large and includes teachers, grocery store employees, health care workers, prisoners and people living in homeless shelters.

A total of 20 million people got their second Pfizer shot long enough ago – at least six months – to qualify now for a booster, Biden said.

“Go get the booster,” he said in a remarks at the White House.

“I’ll be getting my booster shot,” the 78-year-old president added, “as soon as I can.”

Biden said people who have received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccinations could get booster shots once studies have been completed and he expected that all Americans would be eligible “in the near term.”

Some immunocompromised people in the United States have been eligible to receive a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine since early August.

Biden had wanted to launch a mass campaign of Pfizer and Moderna booster shots this week for all Americans.

But the move was put on hold by the US health authorities. Moderna did not submit the necessary data in time and experts were divided about what to do regarding Pfizer.

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