Sep 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Fauci: Vaccinating the unvaccinated remains the "highest priority"

NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Sunday that while the coronavirus vaccine booster rollout is important, the "highest priority" is to vaccinate the unvaccinated.

Why it matters: Fauci's statements on NBC's "Meet the Press" come days after an FDA advisory panel voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, pouring cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals.

  • The NIAID director also indicated in the interview that data on the third dose of Moderna and a second dose of J&J is “a couple to a few weeks away.”

What they're saying: "Our highest priority still is getting the unvaccinated vaccinated, and there should be no confusion about that," Fauci told host Chuck Todd. "The highest priority is not to get boosters — we think it's important to get boosters to people — but the overwhelming highest priority is to vaccinate the unvaccinated."

  • “The next three months is up to us … if we get that overwhelming majority of the people vaccinated as we enter into the fall and winter, we can have good control over this and not have a really bad winter at all," he added.

NIH Director Francis Collins said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that boosters would likely be approved for everyone eventually but acknowledged people were "confused about different messages."

  • "We have to see how this plays out over the coming weeks, because the data changes every day," Collins said.
  • "I do think it was very significant that the FDA Advisory Committee voted unanimously in favor of offering boosters to people 65 and over and to others who have high-risk exposures like health care professionals," he added.
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