US Expected to Open Up COVID-19 Booster Shots to Fully Vaxxed Adults on September 20
Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued amendments to the emergency use authorizations of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to allow an additional dose, or 'booster shot,' be administered to immunocompromised individuals. The move comes amid a US surge in cases of the delta variant of COVID-19.
American public health officials and medical experts of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Wednesday that the administration intends to roll out a new COVID-19 booster shot initiative, with the hopes of further curbing hospitalizations related to the contagious disease and its delta variant.
"The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination," the public health officials expressed in a joint statement.
As a result, the federal government is "prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20," HHS detailed.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy emphasized that this rollout remains pending an independent FDA evaluation on the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines.
According to the tentative plan, fully vaccinated adults in the US will be eligible for their booster shot eight months after the date of their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
Those who will be immediately eligible for the shot are considered to be among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, such as US health care providers, residents of nursing homes and other senior citizens, according to the Surgeon General.
"We will also begin delivering booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities," Murthy revealed.
US health officials believe those who received Johnson & Johnson's single-shot COVID-19 vaccine will also need a booster shot. However, the data needed to confirm this recommendation has not been delivered to officials. The Surgeon General signaled that more information will be available to officials "in the coming weeks."
The US push to extend COVID-19 booster shots to fully-vaccinated Americans comes weeks after World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on members to hold off on boosters, citing a vaccination gap between poor and wealthier countries.
The plea was almost immediately opposed by several countries, including the US, Germany, France and Israel, which has recommended a third dose be administered after a five-month period for "adults 50 years of age and older, healthcare workers, patients with high risk for a severe COVID-19 illness" and other vulnerable individuals.