Americans will be able to start getting a booster of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine starting September 20, 2021, pending authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
The announcement was made during a White House press briefing, which included US Surgeon General, Dr Vivek Murthy, CDC director, Dr Rochelle Walensky, and NIAID Director, Dr Anthony Fauci. All fully vaccinated individuals 18 years of age and older will be eligible to receive a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 8 months after they receive the second dose of the primary series. This allows for healthcare providers, as well as at-risk individuals who were vaccinated earlier, to receive the booster first.
Based on the available data, vaccine-induced protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection has been declining over time. While protection against mild to moderate COVID-19 disease appears to be waning, the data show that vaccine effectiveness against severe disease currently remains relatively high. This protection, however, could decrease in the coming months, especially in those who were vaccinated early on, said Walensky. Vaccine effectiveness against infection with the Delta variant has also decreased.
Discussing the immunological aspects, Dr Fauci reported that antibody levels in fully vaccinated individuals do decline with time and that higher levels may be required to protect against the Delta variant. Recent booster data show that an additional dose may provide at least a 10-fold increase in antibody titers, thereby affording even greater protection.
Findings from multiple studies reporting on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness were published today in the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.
According to the White House, booster doses are expected to be available for every American. There are approximately 80,000 locations in the United States to get a free COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Murthy noted that a booster of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine will likely be needed as well and the public will be notified once more data are available.