Biden races toward new COVID-19 vaccine goal before variants undo U.S. progress

Exclusive: In addition to the White House's aim to get 70% of Americans vaccinated by July 4, booster shots could be on the way for those who are immunocompromised

Booster shots could be on the way for all including immunocompromised persons according to the White House COVID-19 Task Force, which also acknowledges a very real possibility that booster shots stand to be essential for immune-suppressive patients who take chemotherapy or recent transplant patients.   

A Northwell Health medical staff member prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Dr. Anthony Fauci said those with immune concerns may have to “boost them more and more frequently.” Fauci admits a single shot for those persons on immune-suppressed regimes offers “very very little protection.”  

Fauci also acknowledged “an increase,” however, that it is not “optimal” when it gets to a second dose. Fauci contends studies are underway to find out what the general level of protection would be for this population.  

Read More: US to launch trade talks on COVID-19 vaccine distribution

For immune suppressed people, even if it is a lower than hoped for vaccine response, a sub optimal or optimal response is better than no response at all, according to Fauci. In the end he said he “supports vaccinations for this group.”

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the head of the White House Health Equity Task Force added, “we may need to think about the booster shot. One of the questions you have for efficacy, like the durability of it, how long does it last? There’s evidence that shows at least six months, potentially longer.”

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith
(Credit: Yale University)

Robin Yabroff, Scientific Vice President of Health Services Research of the American Cancer Society, who also happens to be an epidemiologist, encourages cancer patients who are receiving treatment to “follow up with your oncologist about your vaccination.”

She advises the same to “adults with a personal history of cancer, also caregivers and family members who are living with cancer patients to be vaccinated.”

Yabroff adds that vaccination is “more important for people who have a personal history of cancer who typically have other chronic conditions associated with severe COVID illness” since “they are more likely to have diabetes and chronic kidney disease and heart disease and obstructive pulmonary disease.”

Read More: FDA expected to OK Pfizer vaccine for teens within week

This comes as President Joe Biden renews his request for Americans to be vaccinated. The president wants 70% of all adult Americans to have taken at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4. As incentives for the vaccinations, Biden asked businesses to offer tax credits and discounts. 

U.S. President Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the vaccination program during an event at the State Dining Room of the White House May 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

An April study from the Yale Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis revealed the United States needed to increase the pace of vaccinations to reach the targeted goal of herd immunity. 

Director of the Yale Center, Dr. Alison Galvani, said, “as more contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2 spread, the level of herd immunity required to curtail transmission rises. That means we need to accelerate the vaccination rate simply to stay in the same place.

She added, “We found that the current pace of vaccine rollout is insufficient to protect against exacerbation of the pandemic.”

As the clock ticks, the administration continues to find new factors that have strong potential to impact the country’s rate of vaccination. 

To expedite the United States vaccination count, the FDA is considering issuing an emergency use authorization to Pfizer that would allow children ages 12 to 15 years old to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. 

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith contends that if the emergency use authorization request is approved, the vaccination of younger Americans will be “transformative.” 

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!