Kamala Harris in Vietnam Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. officials said last week that adults vaccinated with the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should start getting booster shots eight months after their second dose was administered, starting in mid-September. Now, a person familiar with the plans tells The Wall Street Journal, federal regulators will likely approve boosters for all three approved vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — starting six months after inoculation.
Data the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing from vaccine makers and other countries is based on boosters given at six months, the Journal reports. “The Biden administration and companies have said that there should be enough supply for boosters that they plan to begin distributing more widely on Sept. 20. The U.S. has purchased a combined 1 billion doses from Pfizer and Moderna.”
The booster rollout for adults who aren’t immunocompromised hinges on FDA approval and a recommendation from a key Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outside vaccine advisory committee. Preliminary studies show significant boosts to immune protections, but “that doesn’t mean every patient needs to get a booster at six months,” says Leana Wen, health policy professor at George Washington University.
There is some evidence that the vaccines lose some potency after several months and the Delta variant of the coronavirus has infected more vaccinated people than previous strains, although most breakthrough infections are mild.
The discussions about booster shots comes as the U.S. has more than 100,000 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, a level last seen on Jan. 30, before the vaccines were widely available, The Washington Post reports. Nearly a third of those hospitalizations are in Florida (17,000) and Texas (14,000), states with lower-than-average vaccination rates, large populations, and governors opposed to vaccine and mask requirements. The number of new daily cases is also almost back up to January levels — an average of 148,000 cases on Wednesday versus 151,000 on Jan. 30 — but COVID-19 deaths, 1,1000 a day, are much lower than the daily average of 3,100 recorded at the January peak.
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