US Health Officials say covid-19 vaccine boosters to come in September
US health officials and medical experts announced in a joint statement that booster shots for the covid-19 vaccine will be offer in September.
Health officials and medical experts from the Biden administration are recommending a third booster shot for the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna covid-19 vaccines after recent data show diminished protection over time. It is likely that the one-dose Johnson & Johnson will also require a booster shot once data on its effectiveness comes in the next few weeks.
The administration is prepared to make booster shots available the week of 20 September and starting eight months after an individual had a second dose administered according to a joint statement from Health and Human Services health officials and medical experts. The FDA and a CDC advisory committee must still sign off on approving an additional shot of the covid-19 vaccine before it can be implemented.
The initial focus of the booster shots will be on healthcare workers, nursing home residents and the elderly, some of the first to get vaccinated beginning at the end of 2020.
Data shows reduced protection over time
The covid-19 vaccines available in the US “continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant,” the joint statement said. It went on to say that many vaccines have reduced protection over time and that they have been analyzing the scientific data from the US and around the world to “to understand how long this protection will last and how we might maximize this protection.”
In their latest assessment, “the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk,” as well as those who were inoculated in the early months of the vaccine rollout. The medical experts and health officials conclude that in order to maximize protection and extend the durability of inoculation a booster shot will be needed.
Speaking at a virtual covid-19 White House briefing CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who was one of the signatories of the joint statement, said evidence from three separate studies show vaccine protection against catching covid-19 may reduce over time. One of the studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic analyzed both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The study looked at over 80,000 individuals of all age groups and found that effectiveness fell more among those who had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, than those who got the Moderna vaccine.
Who will need a booster shot?
The booster shots are currently being recommended for those who received the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna covid-19 vaccines. However, officials anticipate that individuals who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson will likely need a booster when more data is available in the next few weeks. Use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine began in March 2021, while vaccination rollout of the other two covid-19 vaccines began in late 2020 and early 2021.
The initial focus will be getting booster shots in the arms of the elderly and nursing home residents who were hardest struck by the virus early on and were some of the first to get vaccinated. Health care workers who were also in the first phase of the vaccine rollout will also be prioritized for the boosters.
The general population will follow but the CDC said that the FDA will review data on adolescents to determine when people under 18 would be part of the rollout. President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that the US government expects to administer 100 million booster shots for free at roughly 80,000 locations nationwide. "It’s the best way to protect ourselves from new variants that may arise. It will make you safer and for longer. It will help end this pandemic faster," Biden said.