The US government will announce that Americans should get booster shots for coronavirus vaccines eight months after their last shot, part of a campaign that could begin as early as mid-September, according to US media.
The move could be announced as early as this week, The New York Times reported, citing unnamed sources in President Joe Biden’s administration.
The campaign is likely to kick off with booster shots for nursing home residents and healthcare workers, followed by the elderly, all of whom were among the first to be eligible to receive their initial vaccinations. The general public would then follow, according to the Times.
US officials are considering whether a third dose should be the same type of vaccine – Moderna or Pfizer – as the first two.
People who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a minority of the US population, should also receive an additional dose although more data is still necessary, the Times said.
Administering booster shots would not begin until approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The Washington Post reported.
Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday it had submitted preliminary clinical data to the FDA in an effort to seek third-dose authorisation.
With the US facing a surge in coronavirus infections due to the Delta variant, experts fear that the effectiveness of vaccines may wane over time.
An advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the principal US public health agency, is due to meet next week to discuss the matter, paving the way for FDA clearance.
The discussion has changed sharply since the beginning of July, when the FDA and CDC issued a joint statement saying vaccinated Americans did not need a booster shot.
New daily cases were averaging around 12,000 then but have since soared above 130,000.
The US last week authorised an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for immunocompromised people.
Also last week, infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said “sooner or later” even healthy Americans would need a booster shot “for durability of protection.”