US to distribute booster COVID-19 vaccine doses

Aug. 19, 2021

The United States will offer booster COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans, beginning September 20. People will become eligible for the shot 8 months after their second dose of one of the mRNA vaccines, meaning that those who were vaccinated earlier in the process, such as senior citizens and healthcare workers, will qualify first.

The federal government also is evaluating the necessity of a booster shot for the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. 

In a statement, HHS officials said they concluded the booster doses were necessary after analyzing the available research studies, which point to the waning effectiveness of the vaccines over time.

However, the plan to offer the booster doses is dependent on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issuing an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) would then need to recommend the third dose.

So far, the FDA and CDC have approved the booster dose of the mRNA vaccines only for people with compromised immune systems.

Assuming the agencies greenlight the third dose, the federal government plans to deliver boost shots directly to residents of long-term-care facilities.

With regards to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, HHS officials said, “We also anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine. Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well,” the HHS officials said in the statement.

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