The Obama administration has reversed its decision to approve the COVID vaccine for all adults and children, reversing a decision that critics say is a slap in the face to families and patients who relied on it to save their lives.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that all adults would receive the vaccine from December 26, 2017, and all children would receive it from December 28, 2017.
The move came in response to widespread criticism over the administration’s initial decision to delay the rollout of the vaccine until December.
It was seen as a concession to the vaccine’s detractors, but it also comes as lawmakers prepare to debate the future of the $4.9 billion program.
“The department is reviewing the decision to announce the decision and will take a final look at the data that we received over the past several weeks,” said a HHS official in a statement.
“We have received a great deal of input from families and providers, and we look forward to working with them and the public on the details of this important decision.”
Critics said the reversal was a major victory for vaccine opponents who argued that delaying the vaccine meant the country could not rely on the vaccine as a means of preventing the spread of the disease.
“We know it’s not going to work.
It’s not the way it was meant to work,” said Andrew Wakefield, a British researcher who wrote the discredited study that claimed the vaccine could be linked to autism and other neurological conditions.
“It’s a shame that they didn’t do this before the election.
They didn’t take the heat and the heat is a great thing.”
The Obama administration said it would not delay the vaccine for children until after the presidential election because it wanted to be sure the vaccine was working before the next election.
The announcement also comes less than a week after a White House advisory panel recommended delaying the initial rollout of COVID vaccinations until December, though the White House said the decision had not been final.
A White House official said Wednesday the decision was a decision by HHS officials to take a closer look at their data collection and to assess the impact of changing the dates to determine how much time remains before they would be ready to launch the vaccine.
The official said the White, House and HHS would continue to evaluate the data, and the panel would be reviewing its recommendations.
The announcement came a day after President Donald Trump announced that he was ending the federal government’s vaccination program, which was set to start on January 6.
He had ordered that vaccines be administered to all Americans by the end of the year.
Trump has also reversed the vaccine program’s initial phase 1 approval in March, saying that he would wait for the results of a study that found the vaccine did not protect against COVID.
He said at the time that the vaccine would be released in “a matter of weeks,” though he did not provide a specific date.