In a joint statement released today by medical experts and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), it was revealed that a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is necessary to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong effectiveness.
The Biden Administration said that it would begin offering booster shots the week of Sept. 20, with vaccinated individuals advised to get the booster 8 months after their second dose was administered.
“The available data makes it very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” the statement said.
Based on their latest assessment, health officials said that current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout.
“For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability,” the statement concluded.
The FDA will be conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will issue booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the evidence.
“We are prepared to offer booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20 and starting 8 months after an individual’s second dose,” officials said. “At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many healthcare providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster.”
Health officials anticipate that booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine as well, though more data on J&J is expected to come in the next few weeks.
“Our top priority remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting the American people from COVID-19 with safe, effective, and long-lasting vaccines especially in the context of a constantly changing virus and epidemiologic landscape,” officials said. “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.”
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