Psaki was responding to a question about how soon Biden, 78, would get his booster shot, which would be the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA-based vaccine.
“He will do so, and he will do so on camera. I don’t have a date for you exactly,” she said at a press briefing at the White House.
“It’s important to note—just to take a slight step back—that there are still a couple of additional steps in the process,” Psaki added.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ’s vaccine advisory panel voted on Sept. 17 to endorse the Pfizer booster for individuals who are aged 65 and older and for those who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
That vote came after the same advisory panel on the same day voted 16–3 to recommend against boosters for everyone over the age of 16, saying that data is required to determine whether booster doses are safe and effective.
The FDA has yet to follow through with the recommendation. It is not obliged to follow the guidance of an advisory panel, but it usually does.
The role of the FDA is to approve or authorize vaccines, whereas the role of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is to recommend whether and how the vaccines are used.
Psaki said that ACIP is now “planning to meet.” The meeting about how to distribute boosters across the country is scheduled next week.
“Based on their recommendation, we’re, of course, prepared to operationalize on the plan,” Psaki said. “And that includes having the president get his booster shot as well.”
The president and First Lady Jill Biden received their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 21, 2020, and their second doses on Jan. 11.
Biden administration officials had in mid-August announced in a joint statement that boosters would likely be available by Sept. 20. At the time, Biden said that the plan was for every adult to get a booster shot eight months after they received their second shot.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sept. 19 that fully vaccinated Americans should not get a third shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine if they are not over 65 or not at high risk, and to wait until they are in a category that is recommended to take the shot.
He said in an interview with CNN that there is “always a theoretical risk” if people go ahead and take the shot without following government guidance “because the studies have not been done to look at the safety and the immunogenicity of doing that right now for everyone.”
“Theoretically, if you look at things, it is very unlikely that there’s going to be a risk there, but scientifically you don’t want to go by ‘unlikely.’ You want to have some scientific proof,” Fauci said. “And that’s the reason why right now we recommend that people go by the guidelines, according to the FDA approval and the CDC recommendations.”