The Biden administration is set to announce that Americans who got a COVID-19 vaccine should receive a booster shot eight months after becoming fully vaccinated, officials said late Monday.
The booster doses would likely not be made available until mid-to-late September, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to grant full approval to the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, sources told the Associated Press.
The announcement, which could be made as soon as this week, would be the clearest signal from health officials that the coronavirus is endemic in the US — and that flu season is now “flu and COVID-19 season” for the foreseeable future.
The decision comes three days after an advisory panel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted unanimously to recommend COVID-19 booster shots for those aged 12 and older with compromised immune systems — including people who have received solid organ transplants.
The expected announcement will also come amid a surge of cases and hospitalizations brought about by the highly contagious Delta variant, which accounts for almost all new infections in the US, according to CDC data.
In July, the CDC and FDA put out a joint statement in response to Pfizer and BioNTech saying they would seek approval for a booster dose within weeks.
“People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease and death, including from the variants currently circulating the country such as Delta,” the statement said, later adding: “Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time.”
Since then, data from Israel has indicated declining effectiveness from the Pfizer vaccine against severe disease and hospitalizations in elderly patients, leading health officials in that country to begin administering booster shots to people aged 50 and older.
Approximately 1 million Americans have taken matters into their own hands and gotten additional shots despite being fully vaccinated, officials say.
Currently, 168.7 million Americans are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, approximately 60 percent of those eligible to receive vaccines.