Top Biden Covid-19 officials are increasingly clashing with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the administration pushes to begin distributing booster shots widely by Sept. 20.
In meetings and conversations over the past month, senior officials from the White House Covid-19 task force and the Food and Drug Administration have repeatedly accused CDC of withholding critical data needed to develop the booster shot plan — delaying work on the next step of President Joe Biden’s vaccination campaign and making it more difficult to set clear expectations for the public.
One particularly frustrating episode occurred last month, two officials said, when the agency appeared to publicly reject the administration’s plan to offer boosters to all adults. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had joined other top Biden health officials in signing a high-profile statement on Aug. 18 endorsing the approach. But less than two weeks later, when it came time for CDC to make the case for boosters to an influential advisory panel, senior agency officials argued that priority should be given to nursing-home residents and frontline health workers before expanding access to other groups based on their vulnerability.