Due to concerns about the new Delta variant and the long term efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, U.S. health officials are planning to allow a third booster shot for all fully vaccinated U.S. adults. The plan, announced on Wednesday, August 18th, allows for any vaccinated individual to receive an additional booster of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine 8 months after they received their second shot.
“These booster shots are free,” says President Joe Biden during his Wednesday announcement. “It will be easy. Just show your vaccination card, get a booster. … It will make you safer and for longer. And it will help us end the pandemic faster.”
This new plan comes recently after government agencies such as the FDA and CDC recommended that an additional booster shot be administered to those with compromised immune systems, which is a much more limited group of people. However, the proposed plan includes a wider demographic of people.
The reason behind this plan involves concerns and research conducted that suggest that the coronavirus vaccines lose efficacy over time. “The data consistently demonstrate a reduction of vaccine effectiveness against infection over time,” the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said at Wednesday’s White House briefing.
This research relies on data coming from the New York State Health Department, The Mayo Clinic, the CDC, and Israel’s ministry of health. “We know that even highly effective vaccines become less effective over time,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said at the briefing. “It is now our clinical judgment that the time to lay out a plan for COVID-19 boosters is now.”
As stated before, a big portion of the research comes from studies in Israel, where they have already begun administering the 3rd shot. The studies reveal that there is an “increased risk of severe disease amongst those vaccinated early.”
However, even if this new plan reaches more people than expected, those at higher risk will still have priority to receive the additional booster. There also should not be concern about availability of the 3rd shot. Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, remarks that “We have enough vaccine supply for every American. It will be just as easy and convenient to get a booster shot as it is to get a first shot today.”