Biden Administration to ask vaccinated Americans to get a third COVID booster shot

The Biden administration is expected to announce this week that Americans who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should receive a booster shot to ensure continued protection, according to people familiar with the matter.

They said that the booster should be administered eight months after the second dose of the vaccine was received. Senior Biden administration health and medical officials have been discussing the possibility of suggesting booster shots for weeks, and are approaching an agreement on the issue.

The Wall Street Journal earlier this month reported that the Biden administration was preparing for a booster shot plan, and that the shots could be needed as soon as in the next couple of weeks for the people who were vaccinated first. Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE are seeking clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to provide booster shots to the public.

The first doses could be distributed in September if the FDA greenlights the shots, as the first Americans who were vaccinated reach the eight-month window. Moderna Inc has said it plans to ask regulators next month to authorize its booster shots. Johnson & Johnson is expected to release data about the efficacy of their vaccine later this month.

The pending announcement comes as poor countries are struggling to vaccinate their citizens. The World Health Organization has called for a moratorium on COVID-19 booster shots until at least the end of September to address the shortfall in vaccine supplies.

The surge of cases because of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has brought into question if additional shots are needed. Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, last week said boosters were likely sometime in the future. “We’re already starting to see indications in some sectors about a diminution over time, that’s durability,” Dr. Fauci said, while adding that the administration was following data for different groups of the population. “When it does get to a certain level, we will be prepared to give boosters to those people.”

Over half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research shows that the vaccines offer protection against symptomatic COVID-19 for at least six months, but the protection deteriorates over time, leading some public-health experts to believe that boosters are necessary to maintain protection. 

Because evidence shows that the vaccines are less effective among people with weakened immune systems, the FDA last week authorized booster shots for immunocompromised people who had received a solid organ transplant and people who have been diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise. The CDC also recommended administering an additional dose of the Pfizer vaccine in immunocompromised people who are 12 years and older, or the Moderna shot for the immunocompromised who are 18 years and older.



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