Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday defended the Biden administration’s initial plan to make COVID-19 booster shots widely available starting the week of Sept. 20, saying that while the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) independent advisory panel did not recommend a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for most Americans, more data may soon lead to updated guidance.

What You Need To Know

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday defended the Biden administration’s plan to roll out COVID-19 booster shots

  • The White House planned to roll out booster shots starting Sept. 20, which was foiled when an FDA advisory panel declined to recommend the Pfizer booster for most Americans

  • Fauci told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week” that he did not think the administration’s guidance was confusing, and predicted new recommendations will be handed down soon

  • Dr. Fauci also said vaccines for kids aged 5-11 will “certainly” be available by late October or November


The White House has faced criticism for what some deemed a premature plan to distribute booster shots before health agencies reviewed the data. 

On Friday, an FDA advisory panel decided to not recommend booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for most Americans, instead only opting to recommend a third dose of the vaccine to Americans 65 years of age and older, and those at risk of severe disease. 

When asked by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on “This Week” if President Joe Biden’s proposed plan to distribute third doses, only to be shot down by the FDA panel, was confusing, Fauci said he did not think it was. 

“These are the kinds of things that, when you make a decision, you don't snap your finger and it gets rolled out the next day,” Dr. Fauci said Sunday. “The plan was that we have to be ready to do this as soon as a decision is made … So getting that date I don't think was confusing. We needed a date to be able to say, let's get ready to roll this out, pending the decision and the deliberation by the FDA and ultimately the CDC.” 

Fauci went on to predict “with some confidence that three, four weeks from now,” as more data becomes available both from domestic studies and those being conducted in Israel, there may be a “potential modification of recommendations” from the FDA advisory committee on the need for booster shots. 

“The story is not over, because more and more data is coming in, and will be coming in,” Fauci added.

Dr. Fauci also touched on the potential for a third dose of the Moderna vaccine, and a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, saying the data needed for the FDA to examine the possibility of those boosters will be available in “a couple to a few weeks.”

“We're working on that right now, to get the data to the FDA, so they can examine it and make a determination about the boosters for those people,” Dr. Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday of individuals who received either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “They're not being left behind by any means.”

Dr. Fauci also said vaccines for kids ages 5-11 will “certainly” be available by late October or November, although the timing will depend on when health experts receive sufficient data from the companies behind the vaccines. 

“There'll be a bit of a difference in time frame, maybe by a couple to a few weeks between Pfizer and Moderna and others,” Fauci said on Sunday. “Rather than specifically saying what week, sometime in the mid-to-late fall, we will be seeing enough data from the children from 11 down to five, to be able to make a decision to vaccinate them.” 

Pfizer’s vaccine is currently the only one authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children as young as 12; both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines received emergency use authorization for individuals 18 years and older. 

It’s only a slightly sped-up timeline from one offered by the director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins, who in late August told ABC News he did not think there would be “approval for kids under 12 until late in 2021."

Both Pfizer and Moderna are conducting trials to determine the standards of coronavirus vaccination in young children. Pfizer hopes to submit the results of its clinical trial in either September or October in order to get emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its jab in children aged 5 to 11, with plans to file a similar request “soon after” for children 6 months to 5 years old.