The Biden administration on Wednesday outlined a plan for Americans receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines: to receive a booster vaccination eight months after receiving their second dose, beginning Sept. 20.
As of that date, caregivers, nursing home residents, and other elderly people who have been vaccinated early will be first in line. “We are beginning to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” officials from several federal agencies said in a prepared statement.
The protection offered by vaccines against serious illness, hospitalization and death could decline in the coming months, especially among high-risk groups vaccinated early, officials said. “We therefore conclude that a booster injection will be necessary to maximize vaccine-induced protection and extend its durability.”
People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may also need additional doses. But that vaccine wasn’t rolled out until March 2021, and a plan to provide boosters for those individuals will be made after reviewing new data expected in the coming weeks, officials said.
Some experts immediately opposed the decision, saying only a few older adults and people with weakened immune systems needed extra protection. The World Health Organization has asked rich countries to postpone the distribution of booster shots until the end of September.
“We will also continue to expand our efforts to increase vaccine supply to other countries, building on the more than 600 million doses we have already committed to donating worldwide,” federal officials said.
Before Americans can get boosters, the Food and Drug Administration must first approve a third dose of the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and an advisory committee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must review the evidence and make recommendations. .
Federal officials plan to begin offering booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities, as 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 monitor the science on a daily basis and we are willing to adjust this plan as new data emerges that require it,” federal officials said.