COVID-19 Booster Shots Will Be Available in Fall

COVID-19 booster shots will become available this fall.

A plan has been developed to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots for all Americans beginning the week of September 20, according to public health and medical experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Booster shots will be available following the FDA’s independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. Further, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will issue booster dose recommendations based on a thorough review of the FDA’s evidence.

Come fall, those who were fully vaccinated earliest in the vaccination rollout, such as healthcare providers, nursing home residents, and senior citizens, will likely be eligible for a booster. Booster shots will also be given directly to residents of long-term care facilities as there is an increased risk that COVID-19 poses to that population.

It is also anticipated that booster shots will be needed for individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The team of experts expects more data on the vaccine in the next few weeks as its rollout did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021. Additional data will help experts keep the public informed with a timely plan for such booster shots.

“Our top priority remains staying ahead of the virus and protecting the American people from COVID-19 with safe, effective, and long-lasting vaccines especially in the context of a constantly changing virus and epidemiologic landscape,” experts said. “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.”

As the Delta variant continues to circulate, the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. have been very effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Available data demonstrate protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination. And due to the Delta variant, experts see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. Protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the coming months.

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