US public health officials and medical experts announced in a joint statement on Wednesday that booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be offered this fall, subject to authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration and sign off from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“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,” US health officials, including CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, said in the statement.
“At that time, the individuals who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, including many health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors, will likely be eligible for a booster. We would also begin efforts to deliver booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities at that time, given the distribution of vaccines to this population early in the vaccine rollout and the continued increased risk that COVID-19 poses to them,” the statement said.
The officials write that the authorized Covid-19 vaccines are “remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant,” but it’s clear that protection against the coronavirus begins to decrease over time.
The statement said “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.”
While those initial booster doses will be for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the officials noted in the statement that they anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who initially received the Johnson & Johnson 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,” the statement said.
The officials ended the statement by noting that they continue to expand efforts to increase the supply of vaccines globally for other countries, “building further on the more than 600 million doses we have already committed to donate globally.”
Officials are expected to discuss the plan during an 11 a.m. ET White House Covid-19 briefing.
The statement was signed by Walensky, Woodcock, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, Chief Science Officer for the COVID Response Dr. David Kessler and Chair of the COVID Health Equity Task Force Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.