There has been deep frustration within the administration over the complicated messaging surrounding booster shots, with several officials admitting to CNN that the restrictions on who should get one and when have only caused confusion when it was clear that immunity is declining for all age groups.
“It will be easier to communicate urgency and availability to all populations, including the most vulnerable, by simplifying this and making everyone eligible,” a senior health official told CNN.
“Finally they are here,” another official added.
Once the decisions are made, the message is: If you are fully vaccinated, you still need a booster shot.
As cases of Covid rise in parts of Europe, US officials have anxiously awaited a similar rise as temperatures plummet in many parts of the country. Rates in the US have risen in recent days, sparking new concerns that a seasonal spike is imminent.
Some advisers to President Joe Biden have seen the spike in the number of cases in Europe as another reason to press ahead with a plan to boost all adults, as they anticipate what is likely to happen in the United States.
The last states to get ahead of federal regulators were Utah and Massachusetts, following in the footsteps of several others who determined that all adults should receive a third shot.
“CDC speaks Latin. I can’t figure out who qualifies and who doesn’t. If you smoked while you were in high school, in the 1970s, you qualify,” Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said. a press conference on Thursday, are urging all adults to get a booster if they meet the timing requirement. “I think if you haven’t been vaccinated in over six months, now is the time to get the booster.”
A new wave of Covid cases around the winter holidays would further disrupt a festive season already complicated by high gas prices and supply chain problems. Biden has received personal assurances from the CEOs of major shippers and retail chains that they will be able to operate and fully stock their shelves this year. But the lingering effects of the pandemic will still be felt, from mask requirements on planes to higher food prices to shortages of certain goods.
Biden and his team resent the idea of banning indoor holiday gatherings for another year, recognizing that Americans are increasingly exhausted by pandemic restrictions.
Similarly, Biden and his team are also careful not to signal an end to the pandemic after they prematurely declared “free from the virus” in the summer. A subsequent wave due to the highly contagious Delta variant caused a return of mask requirements and closures, leading many Americans to sour about how Biden handled the crisis.
Once a bright spot in his poll numbers, more Americans now disapprove of Biden’s handling of the pandemic (49%) than approve (47%), according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week.
The downward trajectory closely mirrors the period when the number of cases started to rise again in the summer after it seemed to many that the pandemic had ended. And it mimics an overall political weakening for Biden, whose approval rating stands at 44%, according to a CNN poll.
Biden’s political advisers believe that ending the Covid pandemic — and, by extension, easing associated economic pressures — is the key imperative to elevate the president’s position.