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Confusion over Biden's booster plan riles governors

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Federal public health officials are still wrestling with who should get Covid-19 booster shots and when, but that hasn't stopped some states from moving ahead on their own.

President Joe Biden’s plan to roll out boosters for most Americans by Sept. 20 has sparked fierce debate about whether he’s getting ahead of the available scientific evidence and divided regulators and their outside advisers. And while the Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer and BioNTech’s booster shot in the coming days, it is not clear which groups would be able to get it. The agency's independent vaccine advisory panel on Friday rejected a plan to offer the shot to people 16 and older in favor of a narrower proposal to provide shots to people over 65 and those at high risk of severe disease.

In the meantime, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, earlier this month issued executive orders authorizing booster doses for anyone 65 and older living in congregate settings like nursing homes and drug treatment centers. “For several weeks now, states have had to operate without clear guidance from the federal government regarding these booster shots,” Hogan said in announcing the decision, calling the Biden administration's messaging “confusing and contradictory.”

And on Monday, Colorado’s Democratic governor, Jared Polis, urged his state’s elderly residents to seek out third vaccine doses. "If you are 70, 80, if you have some weakened immune system, go ahead and get that booster today," he said at a press conference, emphasizing that those who want the additional dose don't need a doctor's note.

The combination of aggressive state action and health experts’ pushback against Biden’s plan has amplified confusion about who needs boosters now, as the highly contagious Delta variant rips across the country. Some doctors are already recommending or administering boosters to patients outside of the small group of severely immunocompromised people who already qualify for the shots.

“There’s been just a yoyoing of messages," Clay Marsh, the head of West Virginia's Covid response, told POLITICO.

"Even for people like us who are following, we are confused," he added, pointing to two career FDA scientists who signed onto an essay last week in The Lancet panning the case for offering boosters to the general population.

On Friday, FDA’s independent........

© Politico

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