In-Depth: White House Vaccinations Coordinator on boosters and mandates

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC’s Jennifer Mobilia had the opportunity to speak with the White House Vaccinations Coordinator, Dr. Bechara Choucair, about mandates, boosters and the progress we’re making in the fight against COVID-19.

"The way I look at it, every time we have a shot in someone’s arm, that is one more person that is protected, that is one more family that is safer and that is one more community that is one step closer to be able to put the pandemic behind us," Dr. Choucair said.

But Dr. Choucair says businesses might need to step up, to help get the approximately 66 million unvaccinated Americans, vaccinated.

"We know vaccine requirements work and I think we are going to see a lot more businesses stepping up and adopting vaccine requirements across the country. Over the last several weeks we have seen hundreds of businesses, health court organizations and universities institute vaccine requirements and we are already seeing how well these are working. United Airlines went up from 59% of their employees vaccinated, to more than 99% of their employees vaccinated," said Dr. Choucair.

And when it comes to children, Dr. Choucair says he expects a decision soon on a vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. He says the CDC advisory committee is meeting on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 and emergency use authorization could be granted in the following days.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine going to be a mandatory vaccine for school-age children?

“It’s hard to predict,” Dr. Choucair said. “Vaccine requirements for schools are local and state-level decisions. We already have many schools that have already required the vaccines we’re just going to have to wait and see."

And when it comes to booster shot supply, Dr. Choucair said, "We have plenty of supply for boosters as you know those who have received the Pfizer vaccines many people are eligible for a booster shots right now. We have plenty of booster shots available for folks that have received the Pfizer vaccine."

The FDA advisory panel voted unanimously today to authorize Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine boosters for anyone 65 and older, those frequently exposed to the virus and anyone 18 and older with underlying health conditions.

The advisory panel is still meeting regarding approval for Johnson & Johnson’s booster shot.

Next Thursday and Friday the CDC advisory committee will meet to provide more specifics on who should get a booster shot.