August 18, 2021 9:58:57 pm
Written by Apoorva Mandavilli
Americans who got the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines will be able to obtain booster shots eight months after receiving their second doses, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.
Health care workers, nursing home residents and other older adults who were vaccinated early will be first in line, starting Sept. 20. “We are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” officials of several federal agencies said in a prepared statement.
Protection conferred by the vaccines against severe disease, hospitalization and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among high-risk groups who were vaccinated early, the officials said. “For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”
People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may also require additional doses. But that vaccine was not rolled out until March 2021, and a plan to provide boosters for those individuals will be made after reviewing new data expected over next few weeks, officials said.
Some experts immediately pushed back against the decision, saying only some older adults and people with weakened immune systems needed extra protection. The World Health Organization has asked that wealthy countries defer distributing booster shots until the end of September.
“We will also continue to expand our efforts to increase the supply of vaccines for other countries, building further on the more than 600 million doses we have already committed to donate globally,” federal officials said.
Before Americans can begin to receive boosters, the Food and Drug Administration must first authorize a third dose of the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must review the evidence and make recommendations.
Federal officials plan to begin by offering booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities, since the vaccines were distributed to this population early in the rollout and the virus poses a particular threat to the elderly.
“We will continue to follow the science on a daily basis, and we are prepared to modify this plan should new data emerge that requires it,” federal officials said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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