Booster shots for vaccinated Americans are expected to be available beginning the week of September 20, federal health officials announced Wednesday.
The administration was set to announce the news sometime this week, according to earlier reports. White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Facui previously noted it’s likely that all Americans will have to receive one at some point in time, and today’s announcement follows the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approving the additional shot for immunocompromised people last week.
“Having reviewed the most current data, it is now our clinical judgment that that time to lay out a plan is now,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.
“We are concerned that this pattern of decline we are seeing will continue in the months ahead, which could lead to reduced protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death,” Murthy said. “That is why today we are announcing our plan to stay ahead of this virus by being prepared to offer COVID-19 booster shots to fully vaccinated adults eighteen years and older. They would be eligible for their booster shot eight months after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna MRNA vaccines.”
The plan, although announced Wednesday by the White House COVID-19 response team and public health officials, is still pending and needs approval from the FDA. The CDC’s advisory committee will also need to issue a booster dose recommendation. Murthy said this plan is intended “to stay ahead of this virus” and stressed that the vaccines are doing their job. (RELATED: President Biden Tells Americans To Expect More COVID Restrictions)
The first group of American’s ability to get this booster shot will likely be those who were first to receive the original COVID-19 vaccines. These individuals include nursing home residers and health care providers, CBS News noted.
“In association with the dominance of the delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,” health officials said in a statement prior to the White House COVID-19 press briefing, according to CBS News. “Based on our latest assessment, the 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.”
President Joe Biden will discuss booster shots at the White House later Wednesday, according to press secretary Jen Psaki. The booster shot announcement follows concern from administration officials over the Delta variant, which now makes up 98.8% of infections in the U.S., according to the CDC.