On Wednesday, U.S. health officials announced that they will start distributing a booster shot or third dose of vaccine from September 20 as the vaccine protection decreases over a period of time. This time period is said to be eight months after the second dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. The data for the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine is still being studied so no formal recommendations have been made as yet.
A joint statement was signed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, acting Food and Drug Agency (FDA) commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts. It noted that it was “very clear” that immunity started to fall after the initial two doses of the vaccine and the spread of the delta variant showed that there was evidence of “reduced protection against mild and moderate disease.”
It also said that they had assessed that the current protection available against the onset of severe disease or of hospitalizations and death could decrease in the months ahead. This could be seen mainly on those who were at high risk of catching COVID-19 as well as on those who were the earliest recipients of the vaccine.
The officials said that U.S. agencies were preparing to offer booster shots to all eligible Americans from September 20. This plan was subject to a formal recommendation from a CDC vaccine advisory committee as well as from the FDA.
The announcement was made ahead of a White House press briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday. The message on booster shots has changed recently. Several studies show that the protection offered by both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines falls after six months, and this was the reason why booster shots have been recommended for the wider American population. The surge of the delta variant is also a reason why a third dose has been recommended
Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health said that sticking to the same kind of vaccine a person got in the first two doses was ideal but if they couldn’t get access to the same, they could get the third dose or booster shot from the other manufacturer.