COVID-19 booster shots could be bumped back, here’s how that impacts Austin-Travis County

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Moderna will likely miss President Biden’s Sept. 20 deadline for a nationwide booster shot distribution, top U.S. health officials told the White House Friday morning. Those officials reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs more time to review Moderna’s application, reportedly saying the drug maker’s data was “inadequate and needs strengthening.”

It could push back Biden’s timeline for getting third shots in arms, though health regulators do expect the Pfizer booster shots will be ready to go by Sept. 20.

The White House has said it will follow the science during this process and only move forward with complete and full reviews and recommendations. Likewise, Austin Public Health says they are following national guidance for booster implementation locally.

“We are following the guidance that we are receiving from the CDC and FDA and we will continue to do so,” Dr. Desmar Walkes, the local health authority, said in a media Q&A Friday.

Walkes also said APH is still largely focused on getting first and second doses to people who, right now, are completely unprotected from the virus.

It comes a week after Austin City Council voted to adopt a resolution that directs the city to bring a booster shot plan before the body by late September. At the time, Cassandra DeLeon, APH’s chief administrative officer for disease prevention and health promotion, said they would have no problem meeting that deadline.

KXAN has reached out to councilmember Vanessa Fuentes, who put the proposal for the booster shot plan forward, to see if the change from national leaders will impact the timeline set for city staff. Her press team told us they’ll have an update after the holiday weekend depending on how the situation evolves.

Austin City Council approves booster shot plan, Afghan refugee support 

Fuentes, who represents a largely Latino district, told us last week that she wants Austin to carefully plan for those third doses to avoid some of the mistakes made earlier this year.

“What we saw with the initial vaccine rollout is that it was primarily online and for communities like mine who struggle with the digital divide, if you’re on the other side of that divide it’s going to be extremely challenging,” Fuentes said.

The resolution called for the city to focus on several areas:

  • Equity
  • Build on lessons learned from earlier vaccine rollouts
  • Account for the need to address ongoing vaccine access issues already affecting communities most impacted by COVID-19
  • Build on the city’s recent commitment to increase its community health worker staffing and improve heath education
  • Create robust community engagement and communication strategy

READ MORE: Communities of color still lag in COVID-19 vaccination rates, data shows. Why? 

As KXAN has previously reported, people of color have largely fallen behind in getting their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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