President Joe Biden plans to announce Wednesday that workers at nursing homes will be required to get COVID-19 vaccines if the facilities want to keep receiving Medicare and Medicaid money, according to multiple published reports.
He is expected to make that announcement in a speech at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, as he also talks about his administration’s new plan to provide booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines.
Earlier Wednesday, the administration’s top health officials said a third dose of the COVID shots developed by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc./BioNTech SE will start to become available on Sept. 20 for U.S. residents who have been fully vaccinated for at least eight months. In explaining the need for booster shots, the officials cited waning protection from initial shots and the delta variant’s spread. They also said Americans who got Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine probably will need boosters, but they are still waiting on data and then will set out a plan.
The Biden administration’s approach to boosters appears to fit with the World Health Organization’s stance. The WHO on Wednesday had reiterated its call for waiting until late September to provide boosters in higher-income countries in order to help shift supply to nations that haven’t been able to vaccinate health-care workers and at-risk people.
A week ago, U.S. health officials authorized boosters for just a small part of the population — some people with compromised immune systems.
Last month, Biden said federal government workers must be vaccinated against COVID — or wear masks and be regularly tested. He also put the Pentagon on track to Pentagon make COVID shots among those that American troops are required to get.
Biden’s speech on COVID issues comes as he gets criticized this week by Republicans and some Democrats over his administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The president on Monday defended the decision to leave in a brief speech, but critics said he didn’t directly address what they have described as his administration’s disastrous implementation of the American exit.