US health officials recommend COVID vaccine boosters

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 6:54 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 11:18:01-04

Top health officials in the federal government recommended Wednesday that all Americans get a booster shot eight months after becoming fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The new recommendation applies to those who got mRNA vaccines, including the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.

"The available data make very clear that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination, and in association with the dominance of the Delta variant, we are starting to see evidence of reduced protection against mild and moderate disease," top health officials said in a joint statement Wednesday. Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout. For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability."

The White House COVID-19 response team will discuss the new recommendations at an 11 a.m. press conference, and President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on the subject at 4:30 p.m. ET.

On Monday, The New York Times and The Washington Post were among the outlets that reported that the White House would soon recommend Americans seek out a booster shot eight months after being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The reports indicated that the first booster shots would be administered in September and would be given to people in assisted living facilities and health care workers.

Studies from Israel — one of the first countries to administer COVID-19 vaccines widespread — have shown that protection offered by Pfizer's vaccine has waned in elderly people in the months after a second shot.

The briefings on Wednesday come as hospitalizations and deaths from the virus continue to rise throughout the U.S. Hospitals are filling up quickly with COVID-19 patients, particularly in areas with low rates of vaccination. The country is now seeing more than 500 COVID-19 deaths a day, the highest rate since May.

The current spike in cases is being driven by those who have not been vaccinated for the virus. Earlier this month, the CDC reported that 99.99% of people vaccinated had avoided a severe or deadly COVID-19 infection. In addition, White House officials reported last week that a handful of states with low vaccination rates represented half of the nation's new cases and hospitalizations in the last week, despite representing only about 25% of the country's population.