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Administration Unveils Plan for COVID Booster Shots Starting in September

August 18, 2021 by Dan McCue
This Jan. 24, 2021, photo shows a vial of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

WASHINGTON — Americans who got the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines will be able to obtain booster shots eight months after the date of their second doses, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.

Because of the timing element, those who were first in line for the vaccines the first time around will also be first in line for the boosters. These include health care workers and other first responders, nursing home residents and other senior adults.

The first boosters will be administered starting Sept. 20.

“The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease,”a statement from health officials in the Biden administration said.

“For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability,” they said.

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine may also require additional doses, but because that vaccine was not rolled out until March 2021, data on whether a booster shot may be necessary is still under review.

Before Americans can begin to receive any boosters, the Food and Drug Administration must first authorize a third dose of the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must review the evidence and make recommendations.

Federal officials plan to begin by offering booster shots directly to residents of long-term care facilities, since 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 follow the science on a daily basis, and we are prepared to modify this plan should new data emerge that requires it,” the federal officials said.

Last week, the FDA approved a third vaccine dose for certain immunocompromised people, including “solid organ transplant recipients or those who are diagnosed with conditions that are considered to have an equivalent level of immunocompromise.”

About 2.7% of U.S. adults are immunocompromised, a group that encompasses people that are undergoing cancer treatment, living with HIV, or are organ transplant recipients, among others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, an estimated 1.1 million Americans have already gotten an unauthorized booster shot, according to an internal CDC briefing document reviewed by ABC News.

Florida is among the states reporting the highest number of people opting for a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine booster shot, followed by Ohio, California, Illinois and Tennessee.

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