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Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

What they're saying: “What the CDC is saying, sometimes, the situation is stressed where it’s very difficult to be exactly on time,” Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci told CNN. “So we’re saying, you can probably do it six weeks later, namely, two additional weeks."

  • "Quite frankly, immunologically, I don’t think that’s going to make a big difference," Fauci added.
  • The CDC's “intention is not to suggest people do anything different, but provide clinicians with flexibility for exceptional circumstances," agency spokesperson Kristen Nordlund told the New York Times.

Details: The CDC recommends getting the second dose three weeks after the first for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and suggests a four-week window between the two doses of Moderna's vaccine.

  • The two doses should be administered as close to that recommended schedule as possible, the CDC says.
  • Of note: There is “limited data on efficacy” of the vaccines beyond that interval, according to the new guidance, but if the second dose is administered later “there is no need to restart the series.”
  • The updated guidance also says "every effort should be made to determine which vaccine product was received as the first dose, in order to ensure completion of the vaccine series with the same product."
  • "In exceptional situations in which the first-dose vaccine product cannot be determined or is no longer available," any available mRNA vaccine can be used for the second dose, the guidance adds.

The big picture: The U.S. failed to meet its goal of vaccinating 20 million people by the end of December.

  • In his first days in office, Biden promised an aggressive campaign to ramp up vaccine production, aiming to deliver 100 million vaccinations in 100 days.
  • The new president's "wartime" coronavirus strategy includes invoking the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine supply.
  • Fauci has said the U.S. could achieve herd immunity by fall if Biden's vaccine rollout goes as planned.

Go deeper: The most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information

Go deeper

WarnerMedia-Discovery merger faces questions over Latino programming

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas). Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) want the Justice Department to review closely a proposed merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery over concerns it could limit programming and opportunities for Latino creators.

Why it matters: Castro has been leading a campaign to pressure media companies to hire more diverse staff and produce more programming with people of color. Media mergers could make that more challenging.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Mark Meadows will stop cooperating with Jan. 6 panel, attorney says

Photo: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will no longer cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, his attorney told Fox News Tuesday.

Why it matters: Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel last month, is believed to have insight into former President Trump's role in efforts to stop the certification of President Biden's election win.