WASHINGTON — Top federal health officials have told the White House to scale back a plan to offer coronavirus booster shots to the general public later this month, saying that regulators need more time to collect and review all the necessary data, according to people familiar with the discussion.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned the White House on Thursday that their agencies may be able to determine in the coming weeks whether to recommend boosters only for recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — and possibly just some of them to start.
The two health leaders made their argument in a meeting with Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator. Several people who heard about the session said it was unclear how Mr. Zients responded. But he has insisted for months that the White House will always follow the advice of government scientists, wherever it leads.
The United Federation of Teachers is gearing up for a war with the city over the fate of more than 15,000 educators who have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccination — with classes set to begin in days.
Teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew said Thursday that City Hall has vowed to remove all unvaccinated staffers from payroll without exception — including those with religious or medical objections.
“Our impact negotiations with the city have gone to a very bad place,” Mulgrew told reporters after a Town Hall with members. “It’s clear that the two sides are very very far apart when it comes to this vaccine mandate.”
The union said it would now seek to arbitrate the issue along with other labor groups.
While he has consistently urged members to get the shot, Mulgrew said the city’s position was unreasonably rigid — especially for those with legitimate medical concerns.
The union chief said that staffers who are allergic to the jabs or have compromised immune systems should not be financially penalized.
“The city’s position is to remove them from payroll.” he said. “That is disgusting as far as I’m concerned. And it does not follow the law. The law says that these accommodations and exemptions have to be in place.”